Monday, June 28, 2010

A toothless pony: thoughts on baseball and Memorial Day

Two days ago, i entered a long explanation of why this site and my current status is bringing changes along with what is a radical poem for me. Briefly, we are undergoing some life changes and the site was hacked, sponsoring my rededication to make the site different and hopefully better - with the help of Walker Hicks.
Please read the explanation in the Saturday, June 26, 2010 post, "Hacked and revisions." One change is more frequent entries, aka posts. Today's is below:

A toothless pony: thoughts on baseball and Memorial Day

SAN DIEGO – In spite of recent weather aberrations, June rolled into the Southwest corner in classic form.

The standard “May Gray” arrived late and now “June Gloom” is fully established. While the rest of the country feels summer, this seaport town sits at the end of the Japanese current waiting until July for real summer weather.

For now, the cool marine layer overcast greets us for breakfast and rolls back in for the evening. A light jacket is required for raising and lowering my ensign (U.S. Flag) at the top of the hill. Early morning golf requires warm clothes at tee off and shorts and sunscreen by mid-morning, a logistics problem. My daughter and I went to a Padre baseball game last Wednesday evening, and Sarah was cold enough at the end of the 10th for us to leave before the game was over, a rarity for us.

* * *

There are few things I enjoy more than going to the ball park with my daughter. These outings elicit memories of Sulphur Dell and the Nashville Vols.

The Wednesday game was rife with connections for me as the visitors were the St. Louis Cardinals. For those of you who do not remember the Braves moving from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta, the Cardinals had a lot of Southeastern fans prior to 1966.

St. Louis was the closest team and a perennial competitor for the National League pennant. There were New York Yankee fans and Brooklyn Dodger fans, but the preponderance of the Old South rooted for the Cards.

Wednesday, four young men sitting next to us discussed baseball as if they were aficionados. Then the one next to me spotted a St. Louis fan wearing a team jersey.

“Who is S. Musial?” he asked.

Fortunately, one of his companions responded, “Stan Musial. Stan the Man was a hall of famer who had over 3500 hits.”

* * *

It was hard for me to accept there are current baseball fans who don’t know Stan Musial.

In 1953, Stan Musial was one of my heroes. I was nine and playing my first organized baseball, the Pony League, on the McClain School playground diamond. The manager put me at catcher and thus I became the wearer of the “tools of ignorance” forever, even as the backup when playing other positions.

The Pony League provided me another example of Lebanon’s community spirit.

Headed to McClain in the mid-afternoon, I pedaled my bike furiously down West Main. Somewhere between Castle Heights and Pennsylvania avenues, I spied the limb of a maple hanging high over the sidewalk.

Having a brain the size of a small pea, I decided to grab a leaf, some pitiful reenactment of snaring the merry-go-round golden ring. I held on when the leaf did not separate from the limb, skewing my bike into the rut created by proficient sidewalk trimmers.

Of course I crashed, not onto the grass but kissing the concrete with my face. One of my front teeth broke off. Blood was on the sidewalk. Being a brilliant nine-year old boy, I simultaneously wondered how to get to the game and cried for my parents.

Then the angel appeared. Mrs. Thompson, a gracious, gray haired lady driving down West Main, spotted the fallen pony leaguer, stopped, put me in her car, and drove me home. My mother answered the door and beheld this wonderful lady and a crying, bloodied, half-toothed gremlin screaming his head off because he was going to miss his ballgame.

Four years later, Mrs. Thompson was my home room teacher at Lebanon Junior High seventh grade.

To me, Mrs. Thompson was the epitome of Lebanon civility. She was intelligent, knowledgeable, and handled discipline problems firmly, but with kindness. She always did the right thing at the right time.

This old toothless pony leaguer will not forget Mrs. Thompson.

* * *

Nor will I forget the many men and women who have lost their lives in the service of their country, including friends. The list is too long to include here.

Our Memorial Day yesterday did not include attending any of the many ceremonies in this military town. But raising and lowering my ensign, I took the extra time to gaze across the Southwest corner and remember those heroes who died to enable me to enjoy such a view and live the good life I lead.

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