Sunday, April 23, 2017
Back in the mid sixties when I was young 20 something college student I played in a baseball league during the summer in Lakewood, Ohio called Lakewood A. We were mostly college students home for the summer but there were also a fair number of former minor leaguers who just couldn't walk completely away from the game they loved. Some of these old pros were in their forties but still had the skills and I was amazed by the plays they made and the hits they stroked and yet these were the guys that didn't make it. On my team sponsored by a Cleveland company called Airmatic Valve we had a young man named Jimmie Foxx who played first base, at best he was average at the plate and in the field but as I later learned his father was none other than THE Jimmie Foxx or 'Double X'. At each game his son played this barrel chested older man would sit stoically in the bleachers quietly watching his boy play and probably the only reason I knew anything about Jimmie Foxx was that my older brother had a Louisville Slugger with Foxx's name imprinted on it which made want to know a little more. Here's a YouTube video about Double X.
Friday, April 14, 2017
On a sunny June afternoon in 1949 as a six year old my mom took my brother Jim and I to a Indians game against the then Philadelphia Athletics. This was special because mom had secured box seats along the third baseline about ten rows from field...........what great seats! All the previous games our mother had taken us to were in the various nose bleeds sections of Cleveland Municipal Stadium seemingly miles from the action on the field. On this particular day the Indian's starting pitcher would be none other than future Hall of Famer Satchel Paige and we were privileged to witness his his pitching magic complete with the windmill wind up. Satch pitched 6 innings and gave up 3 runs on 7 hits not a bad outing considering his age at 43. here's link to the box score on that memorable day. http://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=194906052CLE
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
The summer after my dad's death in August of 1952 my mom took my brother and myself to a major league baseball game at the now demolished Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Cleveland Indians were playing the St. Louis Browns, the present day Baltimore Orioles, our seats were in the upper deck and if you're not familiar with the old Municipal Stadium it was large cavernous structure that seated over 70,000 people which is about twice the capacity of present day ball parks. My first glimpse of the playing field back in 1949 took my breath away with it's expanses of green bent grass both infield and outfield the likes of which I have yet to see to this day. I guess it was love at first sight because after this initial exposure I knew I wanted to play this game which I eventually did in the vacant field across from my boyhood home to Little League, American Legion Ball, high School, college, and semi pro sandlot. I was a left handed pitcher gifted with a strong arm and I enjoyed moderate success with a perfect game in Little League and a no hitter in high school and pretty much mediocre the rest of the way but still even to this day it's a game I love to immerse myself in even though my playing days are long over. All this I owe to my mom who was instrumental in introducing me to the game and I just can't thank her enough for what continues to be a rewarding experience whether it's a game I'm watching on TV or if I happen to be at the ball park in person. And it continues to be not so much about who wins or loses but more about those sensory experiences like the sound of a baseball on a wooden bat, the crack of ball against the leather mit, the sound of an umpire calling balls and strikes, a white baseball against a background of freshly cut green grass, perfectly striped base lines and white hollywood style bases. Then there is the magic of night baseball which offers no distraction other than directing your attention to the play on field and the field itself where the lights bring a level of intensity that day baseball seems to lack. So thanks mom for all of it, for getting me involved with playing, with watching, and with soaking it all up.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Back in November of last year we got together as a family for the Thanksgiving Holiday, in celebration of this event I decided that it was about time that my kids, grandchild, and their significant others should be finally introduced to Wiffle Ball. I played this modified version of baseball as a kid growing up in Ohio and then well into my college years so I thought it was about time that my children should experience it also even though they were now in their 30's and 40's. My vehicle of introduction was a little video made in the front yard of the Donnell Homestead where I had prepared a Wiffle Ball field.