I grew up playing lots of backyard baseball with my brothers and cousins. My cousins were many and we all lived in the same area. Matter of fact, I had so many cousins that we were able to have two nine player teams. Every evening we all would gather out in the yard and pick teams and swing for the fences (I guess I should say swing for the chimneys since we had no fences and anything past the chimney on our house was considered a homer) til the sunlight was no more and the moon was hanging high in the night sky. Porch lights became our stadium lights. Parents, aunts, uncles and toddler cousins became the crowd. Tree stumps, toy cars, or anything else we could find became bases. Our baseball bat resembled a cricket bat more than a baseball bat. It was a piece of old hardwood flooring that my dad had whittled down with his trusty old Case knife. The bat was about two inches wide at the top and had a handle about five inches long. The baseball wasn’t a real baseball. It was one of those hard plastic balls with a fake cowhide cover and stitches. We were kids. Specifics didn’t matter to us. All that mattered was baseball. We were as good as the big leaguers. Swiping 2nd better than Rickey Henderson. Going deep more than Mark McGwire or Andre Dawson or Mike Schmidt….So many summer nights we spent on our little field of dreams. Hustling down the line to first. Clutch hitting with two outs. Homerun trots. Roaming the outfield. Making that diving stop at shortstop. If it hadn’t been for the commissioners of baseball, which just so happened to be our parents, we probably would have played til sunrise. They’d call us in so we could rest up for tomorrow’s big game. But baseball would still be in my heart long after I’d hit the showers. I’d lay in bed dreaming about roaming the outfield with Dale Murphy and Ron Gant…climbing the wall for that immaculate catch..scoring that game winning run in the bottom of the ninth sending the Braves to the N.L.C.S. So many nights that was my dream. That was my wish.
That was long ago. Looking back I see how perfect things were. Contentment. Innocence. Happiness. And full of dreams. I wish I were a kid again.