I love football. I've always loved football, ever since I was about six years old. And I love getting on www.chiefpigskin.com to see what’s new. But let me tell you, baseball has always been a close second. You have to remember, I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s when baseball was still king. Especially in the late 50’s, when I was just starting to learn the game, baseball was truly the national pastime. I first became interested in the game in 1957 when the heroes were guys like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, and Warren Spahn. Collecting baseball cards was something every little boy did, and every boy had his own glove.
How many of you older fellas out there can remember this? When I was a kid I rode my bicycle everywhere and I never went anywhere without my glove. I always hung my glove on my handlebars, so that if I saw a game going on in a vacant lot or on the school grounds I could just get off my bike and join the game. I would get up early in the morning, eat some cereal, and tell my mom, “See you later.” I was off to join the local baseball game. How did I know there would be a baseball game going on? Are you kidding me? There were always some games going on. I would play ball all day, come home at night and eat my supper, then put on my Little League uniform to play more baseball.
Regular baseball games are not all we played. We played games of workup, sometimes called scrub, or we played games of 500, wiffleball, cork ball, or any other game we could make up. We didn't need adults, and we didn't need their supervision, telling us how to play the game. We just played. We played “right field is out” if we had to, and we had invisible base runners if we didn’t have enough players. We did whatever it took.
The game of 500 was a good learning experience for all of us. How many of you remember that? One guy would toss the ball up and hit it out of his hand to the rest of us five or six guys playing out in the field. If you caught a fly ball it was worth 100 points, a one hopper was worth 75, a two hopper worth 50, and ground balls worth 25. The first guy in the field to reach 500 or more points got to be the new batter. We use to fall all over each other going after that ball. It taught me how to get a good jump so that I could beat the other guys to the ball and it taught me how to catch fly balls and grounders. It taught me to be aggressive and out jump the other guys in trying to catch the ball. Heck, it was just a lot of fun. If you dropped a fly ball, you lost 100 points. And if you dropped or muffed a one hopper you lost 75 points, and so on. So you had to make sure that when you got to the ball, you fielded it cleanly. We could play 500 all morning and all afternoon. As long as it was some form of baseball.
I realize that these days kids are a lot different. I'm not going to criticize them for playing video games all the time. I probably would've done the same. So as I look back I'm glad we didn't have some of the things that kids today have. I don't think I would've had as much fun. It was a different time, wasn't it? By the way, if you’re not sure what a game of Scrub is, I’ll tell you about it next week. Catch you later.