I remember being extra fidgety one Sunday morning while sitting in the stark white Presbyterian church of my childhood. I used to bounce my leg a lot when I was littler -- something one of my own sons does now -- and my dad would pinch my knee between his thumb and forefinger to stop. This particular Sunday, my dad had done this a few times, each with increasing pressure. It was an autumn day and the Cincinnati Reds -- the legendary Big Red Machine of the 1970s -- were in baseball’s playoffs once again, and I was distracted. I really didn’t want to be there. Finally, my dad had to … [Read more...]
Some of the most spiritual moments I have ever had came on a baseball field. This one came just walking past one. I walked past an empty field yesterday and it was like an old friend was waving. Inviting me to visit. Welcoming me with a warm hug. I stopped and took it all in. The sun hit the fence and the dirt just right and it was like a portal back to my childhood. For a few moments the stress of adulthood withered and the hope and promise of youth coursed through my veins as I breathed in the familiar concoction of grass and dirt and the approaching fall's breeze. All seemed … [Read more...]
Growing up, there was the constant pop of a baseball hitting a mitt, both mine and my father's, coming from our backyard during the spring and summer. Many times we'd lay bases on the green grass as if to recreate the plays of an actual game. I can recall many a Game 7 of the World Series being won by either striking out the final batter with a high fastball or by the ever elusive walk-off grand slam.
My father coached me from T-ball up through high school, except for one year. It was a source of much frustration for him because, … [Read more...]
I know where it is. I see it pretty frequently, but, unless you knew it was there, you’d probably miss it. I picked it up, rescued it really, from the lawn mower a couple of years back and put it in a fairly strange place. It was hiding in the tall grass, all the way back in the yard, just this side of the home-run fence. It was what we always called a “game ball” to differentiate it from a “practice ball.” Game balls come off the bat hotter than the smooshy practice balls, so it was worthy of a rescue. If you’ve ever been around wooden fences, you know that sometimes the posts begin to … [Read more...]
There is this ball that I have sitting in my office. To many, it looks like just any other baseball. On most days it just sits there, without someone even looking at it. There is no signature on it, and I have yet to fill out the placard on the baseball stand. But I treasure that ball. I wouldn’t say it’s Babe Ruth-esque special, but I’d still be upset if William took the ball to the sandlot one day. The story behind that ball dates back to 1996. A good year for me as a young boy. My local high school baseball team won the state baseball championship, and it seems that anytime something … [Read more...]