Yes, I went to Catholic Elementary School but my one true religion was baseball. Everywhere I went I had my baseball glove and a ball sometimes hard rubber other times a legit baseball. If I were on my own I tossed the ball against a wall at the North Common Projects where we had drawn a strike zone and we would even play a game there we called up-against a version of a real ballgame.
My brother Billy coached a team in the Acre Youth Organization or AYO Pony League called the Tigers and my brother Mike and Cousin John played on that team and I was the bat boy. The games were played on the North Common just outside our abode.
When I was 9 I went to the try outs for baseball little league at the Bartlett Field and there was a tremendous mess of kids. We all got a turn at the plate, caught a few balls that were hit to us and then took a turn at the pitchers mound.
I had a crazy side arm delivery and a natural curve ball and most important I could put the ball in the vicinity of the plate which seemed a rare ability among our group.
A few weeks later my brother Mike told me “hey knucklehead they picked you to play for the Reds. You should go pick up your stuff this afternoon at the park.”
I was elated to be chosen on the other hand I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t. You had to be lucky to get a good uniform I mean the right size the right amount of wear I mean if you got one with a patch on the knees that was the coolest and getting a new one was the worst just breaking that heavy wool uniform in for the next guy but at least maybe it might not smell so bad of mothballs.
I got my uniform and it was way too big on my puny body but I didn’t even care and then the official team cap red with a white R on it very cool and red sox.
Well I had my affair with baseball and I had some memorable moments and mostly I was good at running the bases and I may not have ever been thrown out stealing a base but there was the one time I was on first and there were two out and a fly ball got hit and I assumed it would be caught but the outfielder dropped it so I began heading to second and then on to third but then my hat flew off and I ran to get my hat and got thrown out!
I loved that hat.
Another time I was in the outfield and I was chewing on a blade of grass and paying almost no attention to the game whatever when from far away I heard a sound people calling my name and as I looked in the direction of the sounds I instinctively put my glove up and the ball dropped right into it.
I raised my arm in a triumphant gesture to howls of laughter and our coach told the team “that was the damndest thing I ever seen”
In 1967 the Boston Red Sox had the Impossible Dream Season and I had a color photo of all of my heroes that I got when my Dad filled up the car with gas at Muldoon’s Gas Station on Broadway Street. The photos lined the wall of my bedroom and we had a record that covered the 67 Sox Season highlights with the Impossible Dream theme song playing throughout.
Well nothing last forever and when I started high school I went out for the cross country team and ran my first race ever at Franklin Park…..