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"Why I fell in love with sports" I read a series of the same title,

in the Denver Post by some of their sports writers.

I thought it might be fun to have a NetBuffs series of essays on "Why I fell in love with sports". Write your own story or just read the ones posted.

Here's mine. For brevity sake, I took some liberties with punctuation/abbreviations, etc. That'll make it easier for Hawg. So don't grade me as if it was an English class essay. :)

Even though I ended up falling madly in love with basketball and concentrated on that in high school and coached HS hoops for many years, baseball was my first love. I learned to love so many other sports, mostly due to this simple life lesson: "You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball". (to quote Crash Davis from Bull Durham)

I got my 1st glove when I was about 5 and learned to played catch with my brother, who was 7 years older. I was hooked forever. Baseball had so many defining moments for me from age 5-15. I am forever grateful for my brother's patience with me.

My grandfather was a master craftsman in woodworking. He made me my first bat. It was like "Wonderboy" to me. It was the perfect size when I was 5-7 years old. I handed it down to my younger cousins when I got too big for it, and one them kept it and handed it down to his sons. It ended up with quite a few nicks over the years, but it was a solid bat. I learned to hit with that bat, so it will always be a treasured possession from my childhood.

When I was in 1st grade I got started on collecting baseball and football cards. 5c would get you a pack of Topps and some chewing gum. I ended up with hundreds of them. I used to set them up into their positions while watching the Saturday game of the week with Dizzy Dean as one of the announcers or listening to games on the radio. I could pick up Cubs, White Sox, Cardinals and the Reds on the radio. Occasionally I could pick up Cleveland on a clear night. Radio baseball is the best of all broadcast sports---still is. Those announcers were so skilled at describing the game. I still love listening to Rockies game on radio more than watching it.

2nd grade I started reading the sports section and loved looking at all the statistics and learning how to do them. I am convinced this time spent with numbers helped me get started at becoming very good at math, which led to me becoming a math teacher.

My first little league experience was summer of 1963 after 4th grade. Olympic Center Bowl was our sponsor. Gray uniforms, with red letters/numbers and trim. Red hats with OC on them. I thought that was the greatest thing I ever put on. That particular year the league was oddly 4th through 8th grade, so we 4th graders were usually bench warmers. First game of the season, night game, late in the game, they put me in at 3rd base (I liked 3rd base because my favorite player was Eddie Matthews of the Braves). First pitch and this huge 8th grader popped one up so high I lost it above the lights, then found it but I moved in on it too much and it landed off the top of my glove as I reached back. I remember the kids on the other team laughing. We got out of that and I led off the the next inning. They were still on me and I was so scared as I looked at 2 strikes. Lucky for me, the pitcher must of figured it would be an easy out so he threw it right down the middle and I swung. My first at bat was a line drive over the 1st baseman's head and sliced down onto the right field line landing on the chalk (chalk, no paint in those days). I can still see that chalk dust upward. I had a stand up double. That shut the other team up. I can't remember my first eagle in golf (I think I have a couple), but I remember that early baseball moment and always will.

The next day, I had my brother hit high popups so I wouldn't miss anymore of them.

Later that summer, we travelled to Bowie, Maryland to visit my Mom's sister. We saw John Kennedy right outside the Washington Monument. My brother and I walked up the stairs to the top. You could do that in those days. That was a few months before he was assassinated.

Next season, in 1964, the league split into two age divisions. I was in the 8-10 yr division, which made me one of the older kids. Our team won the league and we got to take a road trip to a Cincinnati Reds vs the Mets game at old Crosley Field. Pete Rose was in his second year. Casey Stengel was managing the Mets. That was a great day. I went on to play many more years of youth baseball and I still play slow pitch softball now into my sixties. I sure don't want any high popups hit my way (or screaming line drives)!

Sports linked me to my cousins and my friends growing up. We made up leagues for one neighborhood to play each other in touch FB/hoops. We played in church softball and basketball leagues. In college I think I played every intramural sport there was.

I started my son on baseball and he ended up playing at Overland HS and at Wyoming in college before transferring to CU to finish his engineering degree.

There might be a lot of things wrong with sports, but for so many people, it brings together a sense of fellowship and collegial purpose that not too many other things can. I owe so much to the opportunities I was I blessed to have.

Sports will help us get out of this pandemic. We need them now more than ever.
This quote from 'Field of Dreams' gives me hope for what's to come in these tough times

"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again."

--Terrence Mann

If you got this far thanks for allowing me to share. Please consider sharing your own stories.

Play Ball!

Posted: 05/23/2020 at 12:33AM


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Current Thread:
  Great story. Thanks. -- HooYahBUFF 05/25/2020 06:59AM
  Speaking of Topps cards, remember that gum in those packs? -- WinningLeadership 05/23/2020 11:41PM
  Love this reply: -- WinningLeadership 05/24/2020 7:00PM
  That was an awesome post! -- CUKev 05/23/2020 1:36PM
  He has tried a few college classes -- CUKev 05/24/2020 12:28PM
  Good questions -- CUKev 05/25/2020 11:32AM
  Loneliness can cripple. I hope he can live more the life he wants. -- WinningLeadership 05/25/2020 10:16PM
  That's probably his best option -- CUKev 05/24/2020 3:31PM
  Excellent ! What a fun read. Thank you. -- B4E ** -- Buffs4Ever 05/23/2020 12:44AM