Thursday, March 23, 2006

Crack of the bat

Baseball season is upon us here in the Deep South. To those of us who grew up around dusty fields listening to baseball on a transistor radio, and playing a pickup game at the school yard down the road, the baseball season is magical.

I grew up playing baseball. As a youngster I played league ball, either Dixie Boys or Little League, depending on how I felt at sign-up time, or who the coaches were in either league. My children played baseball. I was even in an old-farts slow-pitch league for awhile.

I have a baseball signed by W.P. Kinsella.

The local high school team has a game today, and I think I might get over to the park and watch the game. Junior Varsity at 4:00, Varsity at 6:00. They play at a place called Bringhurst Field, a quirky old park with wooden bleachers. It adjoins the city zoo, and occasionally foul balls land in the lion pen, much to the delight of the crowd. The lions set up a ruckus when a foul ball lands in their turf.

This year, the Alexandria Aces is playing in the United Baseball League. I'm sure I'll spend a few evenings at Bringhurst this summer.

The one gripe I have with modern baseball is that they use aluminum bats in the high school leagues. Somehow, baseball has lost something with the ping of the bat. A good outfielder can hear the crack of the bat and know how far the ball would travel. The sound helped him set himself up to make the play. There is nothing in the world that sounds like a home run. I grew up with Louisville Sluggers, bats made of fine ash or maple.

The ping of an aluminum bat isn't something to dream about.


Rivrdog said...

Transistor radio? My first portable radio was a tube model, and about all I listened to on it was baseball, either the Senators or the Orioles (I could get both from my home in NW DeeCee).

The radio, a Philco, used itty-bitty "hearing aid" tubes. Hearing aids of the day just barely fit into a shirt pocket.

The radio took a 67.5 volt "B" battery and a 1.5 volt "A" battery. The B-battery weighed about a half-pound and was alomost 6" long. The A-battery was a C-cell. The batteries cost about $6 for both of them, and I might get 25 hours of listening if I mostly used the earphone.

My dad was a baseball fan, and as often as I could, I made sure that he listened to the game on my radio, then he felt obliged to buy the batteries.

I had that radio for about a year, then finally graduated to a Sony transistor, which used nine-volt batteries, but used them up quick, getting only a few hours from each. I worked around that problem by making a battery lashup out of C-cells that would last a month, and carrying it along with the transistor.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading and enjoying your blog for quite some time. I couldn't find an e-mail address for you so i now have an off topic comment. I came across a bit of humor in the mail bag today and thought to pass it along by way of saying thanks. No offence is intended, I thought it was cute myself.

Holy Water

Jerry, a Cajun highlander from Rapides Parish in central Louisiana, was an older,single gentleman who was born and raised a Baptist, living in South Louisiana

Each Friday night after work, he would fire up his outdoor grill and cook a venison steak. Now, all of Jerry's neighbors were Catholic... ..and since it was Lent, they were forbidden from eating meat on Fridays. The delicious aroma from the grilled venison steaks was causing such a problem for the Catholic faithful that they finally talked to their priest.

The priest came to visit Jerry, and suggested that Jerry convert to Catholicism.

After several classes and much study, Jerry attended Mass... and as the priest sprinkled holy water over Jerry, he said, "You were born a Baptist and raised a Baptist, but now you are Catholic."

Jerry's neighbors were greatly relieved, until Friday night arrived, and the wonderful aroma of grilled venison filled the neighborhood.

The priest was called immediately by the neighbors and, as he rushed into Jerry's yard, clutching a rosary and prepared to scold Jerry, he stopped in amazement and watched. There stood Jerry, clutching a small bottle of water which he carefully sprinkled over the grilling meat, and chanted: "You were born a deer, and raised a deer, but now you are a catfish."

Anonymous said...

I've still got my Mickey Mantle model Louisville Slugger.

Nice thick handle...nobody does this stuff right anymore.