I have Fallen in Love Again…

Wrigley sign

Take me out to the Ballgame

When I was a kid I loved playing baseball. It was the pastime of summer.

This is about my long journey with baseball and how I learned to love her again.

It all started with the following images…

  •  Pee Wee and little league teams like Sinclair Oil, Trader and Farmers Bank, Jaycees, and the VFW.
  •  My brother Gary glued to Braves games on our old punch button radio listening to play by plays with stars like Joe Torre, Phil Niekro, and Hank Aaron.
  •  The young Dana Wallace hitting the ball out of the park in little league.
  •  The new kid in town Marty Hamrick sidearm pitching and homerun hitting.
  •  Riding in the back of A.B. Stott’s pickup after the games to the DQ for ice cream.
  •  Playing countless games on Tim Gravitt’s side yard
  •  Hours pitching tennis ball to a concrete block on our out-building and doing my own play by play.
  •  Mack Frazier teaching me to point my foot to the catchers mitt.
  •  Charles Frazier being the perfect little league catcher, catching my only no-hitter.
  •  Facing Tim Gravitt at the plate to see who would have bragging rights
  •  Being a reliever in the little league Allstar game and saving the win.
  •  Hitting instruction from Donnie Bates getting my elbow up
  •  Watching Donnie Bates play third base with Goar’s Big Star fast pitch softball team with amazing players like Red and Perk Perkins.
  •  Watching a great short stop in Teddy Dollar and his ability to get on base by punching the ball just out of the infield. And his wearing ankle weights everywhere he went.
  •  Excellent little league Coaches like Mr. Dodd and Mr. Southerland
  •  Randal Dodd pitching and Terry Gravitt catching and both killing the ball hitting.

Eventually my relationship with baseball took a turn for the worse. I had a bad experience with my pony league coach Stanley Donaldson. Pitchers were beginning to throw curve balls and I was having big trouble hitting a curve and for the first time I was beginning to struggle. I had never had a coach challenge me by using negative approach. I even asked to change to a different team. It was a miserable season.

For a long time I blamed Stanley, but since doing a little coaching myself, I know that a coach uses a lot of different ways to try to motivate a player to play better. Sometimes we use the wrong approach.

I was also beginning to have some success in football and basketball and deepening my love for those two great sports. It was also about this time that Billy Jean King played Bobby Riggs and that was the beginning of a new love affair with Tennis.

I continued to struggle hitting for the next couple of years and finally, after my tenth grade year I decided to give up baseball and concentrate on Football, Basketball and Tennis.

Not too long after that I decided that professional baseball was too slow, took too long, and played too many games. Unfortunately, I talked myself out of loving baseball. I wish I hadn’t told myself these things because I lost a lot of enjoyment for this great game.

My love was rekindled this year at Wrigley Field, one of the greatest venues in the world to watch a major league game. The game was between Chicago’s beloved Cubs and the California Angels.

The stadium is old, but functional and felt historical, almost spiritual. The field was beautiful and the park was full of adoring Cubs fans, even the bleacher that sit atop the building across the street from the stadium were full.

We started out with a Chicago style hot-dogs that set our lips afire and our drink was not to quench our thirst, but to put out our lips.

A great game it was. Seven homers came from stars Cub stars like Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo and Angel stars like Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols and Jared Weaver.

The game was fun and exciting, and experiencing the seventh inning stretch and the traditional singing of “Take me out to the ballgame” made famous by Harry Caray topped off a great experience…and oh yeah, the Cubs won.

The lesson learned for me was that I must be careful with the words I say to myself. Solomon said life and death are in the power of the tongue. My own words had unwittingly caused the death of my relationship with baseball.

If you have given up on baseball, go see a game at Wrigley field and you may rekindle your love for America’s great past time. If you have given up on something else you once loved, Wrigley Field may not rekindle it for you, but it is worth giving it some thought.

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