Sunday, July 22, 2007

For Baseball, Once a Year is Enough

I was never really involved in athletics when I was in school. For one thing I was not good enough. For another, I was not interested enough.

When sides were chosen for basketball games at recess when I was in elementary school or during PE when I was in junior high, I was one of the kids who was picked last. That’s another reason I didn’t play much.

Oh, I played in the neighborhood kickball games and played a bit of scrimmage against a couple of friends, but that’s about it. The only organized team I ever played on when I was a kid was in Little League baseball, and I don’t even remember the name of the team I was on.

The first year I played Little League, when I must have been eight or nine years old, I remember going to bat only once. I struck out.

I played several subsequent seasons at Irwin Park. I didn’t improve much, but I do remember hitting a double once. It was a major rush. Unfortunately, I was tagged out at third base on the next play.

Although I sort of enjoyed playing the game, it was more the general camaraderie that I liked. And when we won a game, we were invariably treated to Dairy Queen. It almost made the embarrassment of striking out worth it.

About once per season, we were treated to an Indianapolis Indians game at Victory Field. No, it wasn’t at the new, improved Victory Field, but the old one on 16th Street before they changed the name.

Edinburgh’s police chief at the time, Winfrey “Wimpy” Burton, who was a league supporter, treated us to a game one year. Not only did he take the team to the game, he gave each and every player a whole dollar to spend on goodies. In those days, you could actually get something to eat at a ball game for a buck.

Another perk of being on a baseball team, even if your value as a player was questionable, was that we periodically got invited out to the Amos Estate for a dip in their pool. Like the trips to the Dairy Queen and the Indians games, the swim-fests were, to me, more fun than actually playing a game. It didn’t involve competing on my part.

These days, I still don’t particularly care for sports. I like the local professional sports teams. I don’t often attend the games, though.

I like it when Indianapolis teams win. I was as happy as any true sports fan when the Colts actually won the Super Bowl. And I followed the Pacers when they were one of the elite teams in the NBA a few years ago.

And, although I’ve been to see both the Pacers and the Colts in action, I guess my favorite team to watch in person is the Indianapolis Indians. Perhaps it’s because of the nostalgic value, harking back to my Little League days. It can’t be the game itself; watching baseball on TV, for example, is in the same league as watching paint dry.

But I’m going to a game today. The weather is nice; the new Victory Field is awesome, and I might even get a free baseball cap. I try to make it to a game at least once per summer. And today’s the day for this year. Go Indians!

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