I don’t watch baseball much any more. I pretty much lost interest in it years ago when there was a strike and the World Series got canceled.
I think that was back in 1994 or so. Atlanta was in the playoff chase, and I thought years of frustration with a lackluster franchise was going to finally come to an end. Then, it all just came to a grinding halt.
As a kid, I grew up watching the Braves on WTBS. At the time, I suppose Ted Turner’s network was pretty much limited to showing the Braves games and Japanese television shows like Space Giants and Ultraman. Back in the late 70s, I don’t suppose there were many options for new cable networks.
But as far as baseball went, I should have stuck to watching it as opposed to playing it. I never was very good at it. As far as the catching and throwing, I was on par with all the other kids. I just never was any good at hitting.
I did pretty well at the plate until the point where kids started being able to throw a curve ball. That pretty much did me in. I could never quite catch up to it. So, I never had any illusions that I was going to be playing in the Major Leagues.
Still I have some fond memories of the game.
There were some kids that were worse than me. During a pre-game warm up one of those kids let loose an errant throw that hit me in the mouth. I had a loose tooth and the ball knocked it out of my mouth.
So, I picked up the tooth and put it in my back pocket. Back then, we had never heard of batting gloves, so I figured that was a good place to put the tooth. By the time I got home, I had forgotten about the tooth. My mother found it when she did the laundry the next day.
One year, I played first base and the shortstop also did duty as a pitcher. He thought it was funny to throw curve balls to first base. I suppose he was trying to figure out how I could catch a curve ball and not be able to hit one.
The same year, I’d switch out and play third base with another kid. During one game a kid tried to steal third base. We had him out dead to rights. But, instead of sliding, he tried to run me over.
The collision was so bad it knocked the breath out of me. But, I held on to the ball. I was pretty proud because I thought that was the biggest hit I had seen all year.
But, I think my favorite memory was at a little field when I was still pretty young. There were rules where every kid had to play at least one or two innings. I remember the game was really close in the late innings.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about burning down my grandfather’s barn. Well, the kid we blamed it on was on my team. And he was maybe the worst kid that ever played baseball.
So, the coach put him in to play his mandatory innings. He came up to bat with two outs, and I figured that was pretty much the end of the game. He stood at the plate and didn’t even attempt to swing at a pitch. But, luck was on our side because he got four straight balls and walked.
The next kid up smacked a ball deep into the gap between right and center field. The little pyromaniac took off running and rounded second base. The coach at third was yelling “Go home Bill, go home!”
Well, Bill ran from second, straight to third base and kept going … right past the dugout and through the player’s gate. He then took a quick left and ran in front of the bleachers and headed toward his house.
Huck Treadwell’s column appears Tuesdays.