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Playing ball

April 1, 2009 - Jim Bartholow
She's only 6 but oldest granddaughter Avery has accomplished something I wish I could have. She's playing for the Cleveland Indians. Point of clarification, Avery's Indians play in the Grove City rec league in the T-Ball division. But I got a kick out of hearing her team's name.

As a kid growing up in Warensville Heights southest of Cleveland, we played baseball a lot. Kind of like in the move "The Sandlot." We played in the street in front of our houses, calling timeout when a car or CTS bus passed. We'd hit the ball into yards and into mean old Mr. Acker's yard. He'd lurk in the shadows of his home and snatch any ball that dared invade his space. He'd also call the police day after day, after day. They'd come by, tell us to watch out, then go off to do some real police business. ten minutes later we were back out in the street playing. Often the police officer on the call was Tony Cantonese, who's sister was our art teacher. I'd like to think that gave us a little "in" with Tony. Or maybe he could see we weren't destructive.

When we got tired of playing in the street, we'd walk a couple blocks to a dusty, old ball field and play all day. If we were short of players, we'd have an official pitcher who tossed to both teams. If we were short of fielders, we'd make a rule that a hit to right field was an automatic out. We shared gloves and hoped someone brought a ball.

I played Little League baseball with limited success _ limited by my abilities not my dreams. I had a great arm, but had trouble hitting ... anything. Nonetheless, I had fun.

And when baseball season ended we played football: two-hand touch in the street. The real fun came in the winter when we'd play tackle in the snow. If it snowed enough we'd pack down the street playground and played hockey. The salt trucks conveniently skipped our play area.

We we're much for basketball at the time. Only one family, the Jurigas, had a hoop in their backyard. That was fun, but none of us were good at all.

Avery doesn't realize it, but her place on the Indians roster has sparked all kinds of great memories for her grandfather.


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