Posted in Life

You’re not going to let a little rain spoil the game, are you?

It was an amusing scene at the t-ball fields the other night. Ten soaking-wet little boys were standing on the diamond in the rain. No one looked very happy to be there.

The other team valiantly tried to hit the ball off the tee. When someone made contact, the ball didn’t go very far, slowed by the wet grass and infield mud.

On each side, fans got wetter and colder, crowded under umbrellas, wondering when the coaches would call the game.

The coaches kept running through the lineup, teeing up the ball as the darker clouds moved across the sky. Every once in a while, they would look at each other, shrug, and bring up the next batter.

Finally, one coach waved his hand across his neck to stop the game. The thankful crowd rushed toward their cars.

The excited players made a beeline for the snacks. That’s what they came for and they were not about to be denied, no matter how bad the weather!

Posted in grandparenting, memories, youth

Joys and memories: watching my grandson play baseball

I went to watch my seven-year-old grandson’s baseball game last night. After two seasons of T-ball, he had advanced to a machine-pitch league. His team lost this game, but the coach awarded him the game ball for his efforts!

Watching this game made me think about my own youth baseball experience. I never played in an organized league while growing up. But on my block alone, I had enough friends my age to field two teams to play either on the street or the “ball field.”

The street game required little equipment. We played with a pink rubber ball and a bat. Bases were manhole covers, car bumpers, and sewer drains. We hit single-bounce pitches. The game’s added challenges included traffic, homes on each side of the street, and the unforgiving asphalt surface. When we could only round up eight or nine kids, this was the game we played.

When we had fifteen or more, we played at the ball field, a quick bike ride to a huge vacant lot behind the development where my family moved when I was eight years old. For this game we had gloves, baseballs, and wooden bats. Bases were flat rocks or pieces of wood we found lying around. We used pitchers, but no one threw very hard, so there were hardly any strikeouts. We played a lot of games, especially throughout the summer.

The challenges of this game included a pretty rough field surface. You had to have very quick reactions when ball bounced off holes and rocks in the dirt and grass that wasn’t cut very often. A foul ball into the woods might mean the end of the game if we couldn’t find it. Every once in a while, someone would tag one and it would reach one of the bordering homes. I don’t think we ever caught a window, but we bounced a few off the roof. A few of my friends were pretty good. Only one of them played Little League, beyond the means of most of our families.

It was a good place to hone some skills. Enough that I could later play some college intramural and later, church league softball. I also remember the names of most of the kids and adults I played with. Baseball was really good for developing friendships. Plus, once you’ve played, baseball is much more entertaining to watch, from the major leagues to a local machine-pitch rec league.

Posted in Life


My two grandsons brought all their baseball equipment to my house on Monday. Baseball and t-ball were starting soon, and they needed to practice. They had two bags full of bats, gloves, hats, and balls. “We have to practice!

We started out playing catch. Then we switched to hitting whiffle balls. The windows were too close for hitting real baseballs. Yes, we hit some windows and fouled a few balls over the fence. Both boys – ages 7 and 4 – did really well.

That morning brought back memories of playing catch with my dad in our back yard. He still had his old glove from college, one barely bigger than his hand. Mine was newer, larger, and much easier to catch with. Dad always claimed that his was fine, as long as you caught with both hands. I knew I’d never be happy using a glove like his.

The memories of playing catch with dad are as vivid as ever. It’s such a simple activity, yet it bonds father and son in a special way. You’ve got dad’s undivided attention. You can talk about all kinds of things when you’re playing catch. You sharpen your skills. Once in a while you show off how hard you can throw.

As I got older, I played lots of catch with my brother and neighborhood friends. We played a lot of pitcher catcher, run the bases, and shagging fly balls out in the field beyond my back yard. But it was never as much fun as playing catch with dad.

Posted in Life

A few (more) days with Dad (part 2, I guess)

The good thing about Dad sleeping in late each morning is that I get a chance to get some work done. Read, journaled, worked on my sermon, reserved a van for the youth gathering trip. Later in the morning I did a bunch of weeding in the yard, trimming around the lawn and cleaned up. I went in search of a blower to clear the driveway and found one serious source of wind power. It took long to wind up the cord than blow everything clean!

We had to do a little more shopping, but Dad forgot his list and we missed a few things. That's the challenge. Forgetfulness. In fact, when He got up this morning, he saw me and said, “Oh, you're still here?” “Yah, Dad, I told you I was leaving Thursday afternoon.” Later, when I was offering to help him catch up on his bills, he resisted, saying, “As soon as you all get out of here, I'll get back into my routine and take care of it.” He still likes his space, knows we're keeping an eye one things, and holds on to what he can. His comments don't bother me. I know he won't remember our conversation. But I also know my sister will have to make him pay the bills when she visits next week.

On the positive side, he's got plenty of resources to cover a variety of living options. He's amazingly healthy, just slowing down. It's tough to see him most of his day in PJs, only really dressing to go to the store or church or putter in the yard because I'm out there. But it's nice to sit with him in the backyard, watch the birds and talk about family. I learn something new about him and his life every time I visit. This time I learned that his Uncle Arthur took him to his first professional baseball game sometime around 1936. They took the bus and trolley up to Shibe Park to watch his boyhood hero Jimmie Foxx play for the A's. he's got an old pic of Foxx on the wall in his office along with lots of old – really old – family photos.

On another wall were pictures of my Mom in nursing school and then as a nurse, wearing her double frill from Philadelphia General Hospital. I sent them to my daughter Olivia who is beginning her nursing education this fall. She replied, “I didn't know Grandma was a nurse!” Yup, it runs in the family!

Now I'm waiting at the airport in Philadelphia, wondering if we'll really fly to Jacksonville tonight, where Tropical Storm Andrea has set up shop. If so, it should be an interesting ride.