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Little League Baseball. This is the 75th anniversary of Little League Baseball. Little League is 9-12 year old boys that play baseball at the highest level for their age group.

Yeah, I realize it's a "Who cares?" thing for a lot of you. For me, it's one of the best memories of my childhood.

So, when I was a little kid, I played all the sports. Baseball, football and basketball - that was really it. But, I was really athletic. And really a fast runner (don't look at me today). Fast like a medalist in track and field sprinting at the Westminster Relays in Atlanta for all schools in the Southeast USA kind of fast (yes I realize this means nothing to any of you but maybe Randy). And I really loved baseball. And I was a Natural.

So, in Little League Baseball you play for your team, and at the end of the season your league puts the 'All-Stars' of the league up to compete in a tournament to get to the World Series, against other leagues. And ultimately, the best teams from each State find their way to the Little League World Series. Usually, an All-Star team consists of 12-year olds who are the best of the best in their league. And periodically, an 11 year old makes an All-Star team. I was one of those 11 year olds. And one of those 12 year olds.

No, our All-Star team didn't make it to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. But, my years in Little League baseball are among the best memories of my childhood.

Here's one of my All-Star jerseys. Yeah, it's over 40 years old. But when I look at it, I can smell the dirt and feel the glove on my hand. And it takes me back.

So, the Little League Baseball World Series is on ESPN for the next two weeks. Check it out. It's as 'playing for the pure love of baseball' as you can find. :)

 

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I was terrible at school sport, too gaggly for Rugby or athletics, cycling was all I could do and it wasn't a school activity, my Dad never had any interest in coming to watch me play rugby at school so I just gave up.

I spent weekends cycling around motocross tracks, or getting rides from mates bikes.

My serious sport efforts started while doing my military service, Rugby, Squash, Running, sometimes all three in one day.

There where no bikes in the army, well there was, but they wouldn't let me touch them for some reason.
 

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Kevin, polyester?..... that jersey ages you.....My Little League all star jersey was wool......:smoking: Our Little League birthed three professional ball players while I was there......one of who was the 1968? first draft choice of the San Diego Padres (Mike Ivie). He bought a 1969 427/435 Corvette with his signing bonus......:mouthwate. Ivie was called up to the big show in September at age 18.

I too, was a relatively gifted young athlete (for a Caucasian :naughty:). I ran four years at the Westminster Relays. Five years later, I would meet my wife to be.....who was a Westminster graduate. :)
 

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When I was 7-8yrs old, our new next-door neighbor was a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His parents were "just off the boat" Italians, and when the Dodgers were at home, some of the single players would come over for the authentic 9-course Italian diner. As a result, I learned to play catch with Drysdale, Koufax, Bilko, et al in my front yard. The dream was set. I spent many summer nights listening to Vince Scully on the radio describing the heroics of my heroes. Ralph's bedroom featured a mural of the field at Dodger Stadium on the ceiling. To me, it was like Michelangelo's rendition of David on the Sistine Chapel.

As I progressed as a player, I was coached and mentored by some very tough men. They themselves had been robbed of their own childhoods by the Great Depression. They barely survived. They had fought and barely survived WWII. Some had also fought in Korea.They couldn't teach me a lot about the skills required to be successful at baseball, but they knew EVERYTHING about survival, and that is what they felt compelled to share with me. Basically, it came down to toughness. I was raised on all of the Lombardi-isms; "When the going gets tough, the tough get going", etc. I believed them all, and to be honest, I guess I still do.

I pitched against an army surplus tarp that my dad had set up in the back yard. He had stenciled a strike zone on it, and he made what was probably one of the very first batting tees. I pitched until I couldn't stand the pain, and I hit until my hands bled. By the time I was 10, I was one of the best players in a very competitive league of 10-12 yr. olds. By the time I was 11, I was the best. Many of us went on to play major college or university baseball, and although none achieved success at the major league level, many played professionally.

Baseball was pretty much my life until I was 22. It ended suddenly, but looking back, maybe it was best that way. What follows is a funny story about one of my Little League experiences.

I was 12 and a dominant player. I had just hit a monstrous home run. After I had rounded the bases, the second baseman for the other team appealed to the umpire that I had missed touching second base. The ump admitted that he had not seen it, so he asked the kid if he was certain that I had missed it. The kid swore to it, so the ump called me out. Rage is such a small word to describe my feelings that day.

The kid in question was one of those assholes ,who you knew even at an early age ,was eventually going to become a lawyer or a politician. Always whining about something (everything was "unfair"), and always looking for a way of getting over on everyone else. My guess is that he went on to become an ACLU attorney.

As it happened, said asshole was the first hitter due up the next inning. After warm ups, my best friend and third baseman came over to give me the ball. I told him to go back to his position, put his glove on the ground in front of him, and fold his arms across his chest. I also told him that I was going to throw the next pitch through the kid's "F'ing ear", and I didn't want anyone to think it was an accident. This was all of that training kicking in.

Before I could throw that pitch, however, the umpire came out to the mound and threw me out of the game. I was devastated. I had never been thrown out of a game before, and I knew that my parents would not take kindly to this, and that there would be consequences. "F" bombs were not tolerated in my family under any circumstances. I protested vehemently to the ump, and stated that he couldn't possibly have heard what I had said. He then informed me that I was right about not him being able to hear what I said, but he went on to explain that his sister was deaf, and he had learned how to read lips as a child. He then asked me if I wanted him to explain all of this to my dad. BTW, my dad was the President of the Little League at the time. I asked (begged) him not to say anything, accepted my fate, and quietly walked off the field. To this day, I have to think that I'm one of the few people who have ever been thrown out of a game by a lip reader. This may also explain why baseball players today often cover their mouths with their gloves when talking to one another on the field.

Although my parents didn't say anything about it to me immediately afterwards, I don't recall either of them talking to me about anything period for a few weeks. Nor was I to talk. They would have been OK with me drilling the kid, but not the talking about it part. Lesson learned.

Perhaps sensing the inevitable, the kid's parents took him out of the league before I could face him again. Probably best for all concerned. He probably rides a Brutale now.
 

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Hey....I went to Westminster.....but I wasn't big and strong enough to compete at high levels. Did win some AAU medals in swimming meets with the Anskey Golf Club swim team.

I was a skinny little kid who always looked younger than my classmates.....paid off when I started racing bikes (125 lbs dripping wet at 25 years old means hole shots)....and now (insides are rotten but outsides still look a bit younger than actual).

My best Little League memories are from my son playing.....loved T-ball, great fun spending summer evenings with the kids at the city baseball complex, Kevin (my son...not you Kevin) was a pretty good athlete.
 

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Kevin, polyester?..... that jersey ages you.....My Little League all star jersey was wool......:smoking:
Ha. In my first two years ours were wool. Kind of a wool vest with the team name and number on the back, and a Little League logo on the left chest pocket area. And then a jersey underneath that was white in the body area and had colored 3/4 length sleeves. But my last two years were in the 70's, so we had to go polyester baby! :smoking:
 
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