After enjoying the last of a small bag of succulent, chocolate covered strawberries generously sent home with me after a Sunday steak dinner, I‘m shot-gunning (topically, not literally) what came to me last night while watching Texas beat Michigan 5-1 at the Little League World Series.
That the Southwest team whacked back-to back-to back home runs in the 3rd inning had everyone– including the announcers—jazzed. As a grownup, one might think the field isn’t actually that big, but as a participant, yanking one out IN THE WORLD SERIES isn’t something those young men will ever forget. Had to love the 3rd base coach, giving skin to the kid who tomahawked a high hard one for final homer and saying, “Yeah, you oughta be smiling about that one!” especially since he’d just gotten into game as a pinch hitter.
Hell, I still remember the first play of my Pop Warner football career, under the lights at Saratoga. The center neglected to snap the ball on first sound as planned, but we came back to the huddle saying, “Hey, our helmets are better than theirs!” because when we fired off, the other guys sounded plastic-y. I’ve never forgotten that Bob Massaroni was devastated he didn’t get to play because he was ¼ pound under the minimum. (Shout outs to other players Jim Schermerhorn, who expressed interest in the LLWS, Bob Houlihan, who I see on FB on a regular basis, and Steve Lussier, wherever he is.)
Since I‘m tripping down memory lane sports-wise:
- Going to my nephew Curtiss’ tee ball game (#4, above, with Dave walking behind him) and laughing with everyone else when batter hit a grounder right to him at first base and he couldn’t see it, because he had the glove in front of his face and didn’t take it away while moving head side to side.
- Brother Dave, after being told by scorekeepers that this was the 10th batter, shocking the ladies by (kiddingly) saying, “Shhh, maybe we can sneak another one in.”
- Volunteering to umpire a game in flip flops and tank tee (plus the pad), calling my nephew Spencer out on a maybe wide third strike, after he told me during an injury time out that the previous strike hadn’t actually been in the strike zone. I’ll always chuckle about that one. At *no* point does telling ump he was wrong work out well.
- Several years later, I snapped a picture of Curtiss’ only hit of the season while on vacation in NY. He was thrown out at second by a mile moments later, because the next batter took a pitch when the hit-and-run was on.
- Nephew Ryan, coming in to pitch when his team was behind like 8-1, and holding other team down while our family– including my parents, his brothers, parents, dog, and eventually all his buddies from other games, because their game took so long– cheered as his team came back to win.
- Long ago interview with a Little League administrator, Circuit Judge Harry Fogle of Clearwater, FL, who felt participation meant actually playing. As a member of the International Rules Committee, he stumped long and hard for what became a tenet of the game, “because a kid doesn’t learn the value of an activity like baseball sitting on the bench, although it’s a different story later on.”
- Umpiring softball in Florida, and asking about ground rules for a particular stand-alone fence in left field, which was an HR, but could also be caught for an out. Second inquiry, about the usual 10-run ‘mercy rule’, one player said with a wink, “Yeah, but this is against the Methodists.”
On an unrelated front, I was impressed by the statue erected to Napoleon at Waterloo when my brother Steve and I were in Belgium for his exchange brother’s wedding long ago. It’s a lion with its paw on a small globe of the world, atop a 300-ft. high mound of earth that *definitely* stands out when almost all of Belgium is flat as a table.
You might recall Napoleon LOST at Waterloo, so I guess it meant enough to everyone else that they immortalized the event. (FYI, someone had just recently spray painted one side of the monument in protest.) My take on statues: Some are legit, and bless Gettysburg for standing firm on not taking any of theirs down. That particular three-day struggle of a battlefield is the epitome of what the Civil War meant to this country, capped by Lincoln’s immortal ‘Gettysburg Address’. Certainly not a tweet, but memorable to the max.