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Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category

I buried a piece of my childhood this weekend.

For five years I resisted doing the inevitable, and my Sony Walkman rested on my nightstand, unused. On occasion, I’d slide AA batteries in, just to make sure the old warhorse was still alive. Each time, it was.

The walkman, complete with a digital radio, served me well in high school, college and jogs through Washington, D.C. neighborhoods. It served me best after sundown. That’s when it would work its magic, pulling in far-away radio stations from Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Montreal. Montreal was the greatest treat, for the news broadcast was in French, and I’d feel a sense of accomplishment when I understood a word, sometimes “aujourd’hui,” and, if the static wasn’t too great during the sports report, “gardien de but.” Gardien de but means goalie, and aujourd’hui is French for today. There, I still remember that. Meaningless information, I realize, since I can’t identify any of the other words in the sentence. Perhaps I’d be able to say “Today’s goalie.” But I doubt it – some tense issue would trip me up.

From Chicago, Loop traffic took center stage in the early evening, while WBAL ran its Orioles pre-game show, leading right up to game time. I can’t remember any WBZ reports out of Boston, but the music pumping out of WKBW in Buffalo was clear, and often enough, Don McLean’s American Pie was the DJs song of choice. American Pie was also a favorite on WNBC, back when Wolfman Jack did overnights in the 1980s and I listened to the New York station from my Connecticut bedroom well after my parents had gone to bed.

Now the Walkman is asleep, perhaps for good. It’s been replaced by the laptop, my iPhone, and digital cable, all of which make it too easy to watch news, or sporting events, from anywhere. Two weeks ago I walked to pick up some chips and salsa – my daughter demanded, so I delivered – and I turned on the Major League Baseball app on the iPhone. I quickly flipped from one game to the next. There was no challenge. For $14.99, you too could listen to tonight’s Padres-Phillies or Red Sox-Indians game, no matter where you live. For $99, go ahead, watch it.

No longer am I at the mercy of atmospheric conditions. The AM waves may or may not be bouncing off the clouds tonight. Who cares? I have the iPhone. In a way, that’s too bad.

A part of me misses the game of chance, never knowing if 1100 in Cleveland would come in, or if 1090 in Baltimore would bleed through. I knew one thing: WTIC 1080 out of Hartford would never be audible, as its signal would rocket north, leaving many of us in Southern Connecticut in the dark about news from our state capitol. I suppose there is an app for Hartford news too.

For the record, I didn’t really bury the Walkman, I just put it in a storage cart in the basement, where it will stay, off, as its been for all these years.

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soccerballI don’t remember the hit, nor do I recall which one of my teammates hovered over me first. But I do recall the pain, as my knee hyper-extended for the third time in a year.

It was but one of a series of injuries to my right knee, my 140-pound frame balking at the abuse I put it through in high school. In the stands, my grandmother looked on as her favorite left-winger dropped to the ice, flopping around like a beaten ragdoll.

“Why can’t he play chess,” she asked my mother in Hungarian, while the rest of the crowd at the high school hockey game wondered if No. 24 was having a seizure.

The physical beatings would continue. There were plenty of back spasms. Then there was the night the knee popped on a muddy Fairfield University baseball field – a late night pickup game gone bad. That time, the doctors operated.

Years later, in college, I dove for a ball and slammed into a rock, suffering what I think was the only concussion of my life. I don’t remember. Anyway, I caught the ball, so it was worth it. Fellow wannabes know exactly what I’m talking about.

These days I do little more than swing my golf club, taking solace in the fact that I’m the best lefty in the foursome. Hey, it’s all I have, especially as I’m putting around the green like a child on a miniature golf course.

The glue factory may soon be calling.

So it sounds like the perfect time to step aside and let my little boy take center stage. On Sunday, he plays in his first athletic event, a soccer match consisting of four-year-old kids. He hardly knows how to kick a ball and, today, when I brought home his jersey, he asked, “Daddy do you score touchdowns in soccer?”

Baseball, football, soccer, what’s the difference?

The kicker (pun completely intended) is I’ll be the team’s head coach. That means for many of the children, I’ll be the first coach they’ll ever have.

That’s an honor. And it beats playing chess.

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