It’s heading toward the middle of June, the heart of baseball’s season. The Red Sox are in first place. We were sure this was going to be a terrible season, but they’ve been either leading the pack or almost leading it since the beginning of the season. The Rays and the Sox have been duking it out for top of the Eastern Division. Garry would normally be obsessively glued to the television, but we get superstitious about baseball. We’re afraid if we watch, we’ll somehow cause them to lose. Yes, that sounds stupid.
The sportscasters were talking about somebody getting stuck with an error because he couldn’t catch a ball on a bad bounce and how hard it is to catch them when they take an unpredictable bounce.
This got me thinking about stickball. Our baseballers get paid gazillions to play professional baseball. They have parks with groundskeepers, bases, uniforms, baseballs, and bats! How would they do without all that fancy stuff, huh? We didn’t have any of that.
We had old broomsticks and pink rubber Spalding balls. The broomsticks were worn out. If it was any good, your mother was using it and it had a broom attached. Try to take that broomstick and she’ll beat you with it. The ball? Half the time, they weren’t even round, just lumps of old pink rubber which had once, long in the past, been balls.
In hometown stickball, assuming you actually hit it (dubious), you had no way to predict where it would go. All bounces were bad. Crazy. The bases were “the red car over there” and “the big maple tree in front of Bobby’s house” and everyone agreed the manhole cover was home because it was more or less in the middle of the road. Third was the drainage grate over the sewer
It left the game wide open for serious disputes about fair versus foul. The team who was most vigorous in pursuing fairness or foulness got the call, especially since we were our own umpires and decisions were voted on — but the bigger kids always won.
If those super highly paid athletes had to play stickball, how well do you think they’d do? I’d just like to see those tough major leaguers playing stickball with a worn-out broomstick and an old pink Spalding ball bouncing all over the place. They would learn humility in a big hurry.