Pop Pop Epistle #107 – I Miss Baseball

Pop Pop Epistles (Main)Dear Grandkids,

I miss baseball.

Because of Covid-19 the 2020 Major League Baseball season never even got started. Nona and I were supposed to be in St Louis visiting my brother in early May and were going to a Mets vs. Cardinals game – but that never happened.  So I am missing baseball.

But I also miss playing baseball. I grew up playing Little League and High School ball. That evolved into playing softball for the next 25 years until the threat of pulled muscles caused me to retire. So it’s been about 17 years since I played competitively. And I still miss it.

So I’ve been reminiscing. I thought I would share a few of my baseball memories with you that I haven’t already shared.

As I mentioned I played Little League up until high school. I was a short stop. The thing I like about being short stop was that I felt like I was involved in every play. I wasn’t great but I was good enough to make a few All-Star teams. What I wasn’t was a pitcher. I remember being put in to pitch one game. I don’t remember why, but I do remember that we lost 30-0. My pitching career ended pretty quickly.

Screen Shot 2020-05-23 at 11.41.17 AMMy uncle and his family lived up in Detroit. He was a syndicated columnist for the Detroit Free Press and loved baseball – especially the Detroit Tigers. When we would visit, he would take me to baseball games at the old Tiger Stadium. In 1971, Detroit hosted the MLB All-Star Game and he invited me to come up from South Carolina and go to the game with him. It was one of the greatest All Star Games ever…. for at least 3 reasons. 1) It was the ONLY time the American League won the All Star Game between 1963 and 1982. 2) All of the scoring came via the home run and all six home runs hit in the game and all the runs scored were by future Hall of Fame players. These HOFers hit home runs: Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson, and Reggie Jackson. 3) Jackson’s home run is one of the most memorable ever – it was measured at 520 feet and was only kept from going out of the stadium by a light pole on the roof of the stadium.

I didn’t play baseball my first 2 years of high school – instead played tennis. But tried out for the baseball team my junior year. I was actually surprised when I was told at first cuts that I would be on the team. Again, I was not a great player, but my value to the team was that I was good and could play a lot of different position (just not pitcher). I was what you would call a utility player. I didn’t start until half way through the year. I had been the backup 2nd baseman. But during warmups one game I was in the outfield and running down every fly ball that came out there. The coach noticed and began starting me in left field after that.

My senior year I converted back to 2nd base and started the whole season. About 2/3 through the season, I was fielding grounders prior to the start of the game when a ball hit a rock, jumped up and crashed into my nose – and broke it. There was a lot of blood but we got it under control and I stayed in the game. Later that game, with two outs and a runner on, an opposing player lined a shot to right center. I timed my jump just right, elevated as high as I could, speared the ball and took an extra base hit away from the batter. It was one of the best catches I ever made.

Screen Shot 2020-05-23 at 11.40.22 AM

The memories I have of playing ball are still fresh. Hard to believe they are over 40 years ago. Here’s the thing about memories. They stay with you for a long time. The good ones and the bad ones. Some memories you are in control of making. Some you aren’t. Make sure that the ones you can control are the ones that you will want to remember 40 years from now. I’m hoping that some of your best memories will be shared memories that we have together over the next 20 years. But in the meantime…

I miss baseball!

Never forget that you are very loved!

Pop Pop

 

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