Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Rant #399: A Long, Long Time Ago
I always seem to reflect back on my youth, I guess because my childhood was such a good time in my life, mixed in with a lot of nonsense, a lot of things I didn't understand at the time, and lots of things I understood way too well for a little kid.
Yes, I grew up in the 1960s.
There was no better time to grow up than in the 1960s, and probably no worse time. Everything was seemingly new, we certainly shot for the stars with what we thought we could do, and we idealized things, tried to rationalize things, that didn't make any sense into sense.
But I was a little kid, and in 1966 or 1967, I was just nine and 10 years old.
All I cared about was my comic book collection, my baseball card collection, my favorite sports teams (I was into every sport at that time), and when the next pickup stickball, fungo, or touch football game would be.
I played Little League baseball (or what our community had; it was not a sanctioned Little League) from the time I was seven up to 15 years of age. I loved it, and while I wasn't a very good player, I tried real hard.
At various times during my time as a Little Leaguer, I played first base, second base, all of the outfield positions, catcher, and one time--because our regular pitchers weren't around for some reason, I think it was mumps--pitcher.
My teams actually were pretty successful. When I got older, my father was the coach, and we won a few league championships. One was such a big deal that they put up the lights for us. We played one hot spring evening under the lights, with probably a hundred people watching us, and I know we won.
I scored a run by knocking the ball out of the catcher's glove and knocking myself out in the process. You see, the catcher, who we called "Fat Harry," was about 300 pounds when he was 11 or 12. My coach (my father was working, so we had a substitute coach, my friend's dad), told me that if the ball was hit on the ground, run to home and try to score. I did, but I swear to you I was knocked out for a second or two. When I came to, the coach told me that I knocked the ball out of the catcher's glove, and that I had scored. In today's world, I probably would have been checked out for a concussion, but there weren't any ill effects, and I actually stayed in the game and played second base.
Anyway, here is a picture of my team and me when I was about nine or 10 years old, a few years earlier than that game. This was sent to me by one of my old friends who I recently came in contact with again. The two coaches were fathers of my friends; I am the second from the right in the bottom row.
I look at this picture, and I see the joy I had playing baseball at that time. Really, nothing else mattered much. I was good in school, a pretty good kid all-around, so I really didn't have any problems at all.
My main problem was becoming a better player, which I did do, but I never was very good to begin with.
This is a truly great photo, and I thanked my old friend for it. It is a keepsake of a very different time in my life and the life of our country and our world. In some ways, I think it was a better time, at least for me.
But if you want to be honest about it, was it really such a good time? We were just a few years removed from the Kennedy assassination, our boys were still in Vietnam, and there was lots of strife going on in our own country. The worst was still yet to come in a lot of ways, but back in 1966 and 1967, my biggest worry was that the Yankees would actually be in last place (they were, in 1966).
I look back on that period, and I look back with fondness. There was nothing better than being a kid, growing up with so many friends, and not having to worry about much of anything at all.
"I was so much younger then ... ."
Posted by Larry at 3:41 AM