1953 was quite a year when you think about it. Truman announced that the US had developed the HBomb & Peter Pan was the top grossing film of the year. Nikita Khruschev became head of the Soviet Central Committee and Ian Fleming published the first Bond Novel Casino Royale. French paratroopers took  Dien Bien Phu & Albert Switzer won the Nobel Peace Prize. The CIA helped to overthrow the government in Iran and the Philippines’ DZAQ-TV3 aired the first Asian TV broadcast.  The duality of man marched on. But there is a bigger story in my life than any of these, I discovered baseball in 1953.


 I was the new Kid on the block in my little home town and knew very little about the game. I didn’t have a dad to teach me and didn’t even have a glove or bat or ball.

But I managed to prevail on Mom to provide one of each and so began my life long love and passion for the game. Those summer days of learning were like a drug; once discovered the genie was forever out of the bottle. 



“Americans have played baseball for more than 200 years, while they conquered a continent, warred with one another and with enemies abroad, struggled over labor and civil rights and the meaning of freedom. At the games heart lie mythic contradictions: a pastoral game, born in crowded cities; an exhilarating democratic sport that tolerates cheating and has excluded as many  as it has included; a profoundly conservative game that sometimes manages to be years ahead of its time.” Ken Burns Baseball an Illustrated History  http://www.powells.com/biblio/0679765417?&PID=31879



Of course in the summer of 1953 I didn’t know any of this, all I knew was I was going to be like Roy Hobbs I was going to be the “best there ever was.”



12 Responses

  1. Awww! The first of the Baseball/Consitution/Jazz posts, I presume. Of the “Big Three” (football, basketball, baseball) baseball has always been my secret favorite. Because it seems to me that it’s the only one where everybody has a chance…not that you don’t have to have talent, but it seems to me that football and basketball are increasingly dominated by freaks. In football, except for the QB’s, the size of the players is unhealthy and the violence of it is deadly. (I just heard a story about concussions in football on NPR.) In basketball, the players are now so tall that I’m sure they’re going to have to raise the height of the basket. (Then they will grow more tall and even freakier players.)

  2. Baseball is life. It saved me twice and I give back to it constantly. First I was Luke, now I am Obiwan, but the force has always been there. Always! Little guys can still play baseball at the highest level so it is still Americas game.

  3. I’m looking forward to hearing the story about how it has saved you twice, Obiwan.

  4. When I was 17 I was a wild child. I always liked smart people and it didn’t matter to me whether they were valedictorian or swept the floor. Actually the guy that swept the floors was a hell of a lot more fun than the valedictorian, so I hung with him, he was 18 and the best bowler in the county. I was second best. We were hellions too and partied all over the neighboring states. Bowling was a cover for me really although I did enjoy it, being away from home was the end result. I started driving without a license at 14 and by 17 it was a total wonder that I was still alive.

    The difference between he and I was that I played baseball and he had quit. One day my coach came and picked me up for a game, and the guy went by himself to one of his “activities.” He got caught and put in jail. During the 60’s it was still common for the judge to say “son, ya got 2 choices, serve or service.” My friend enlisted in the Navy, went to Nam and didn’t come back. I played baseball 2 more years. I credit baseball with keeping me out of jail and away from Nam. I went to college, got married and became a daddy and straightened out. Baseball gave me that chance.

  5. Wow…that is the short version of that story, and I’m sad to hear about your friend. There are turning points in all our lives that we don’t recognize at the time, and only become clear when we’re old enough to begin to reflect. At least it seems that way to me. When we begin to try to make sense of the story that is who we are.
    I mentioned one of mine…I started college in the fall of 1967 in Memphis, and in April of the next year, MLK was assassinated in Memphis, and so just by accident, it has affected my outlook ever since. Of course, there are other more personal incidents that have affected the person I became.
    I would be interested to know how your political outlook changed from what seems like a liberal bent to start with, to what seems like a conservative bent now. Was there a particular incident that occurred, or was it just a gradual change? There is nothing judgemental about my question. I have become more conservative with time (dammit), but I can’t say I’ve changed my core beliefs….I like to think I’m just more practical.

  6. I played baseball during high school because i was too skinny to play football and too slow for basketball. I have been immortalized by the lady at the top of my street. ever since high school she refers to me as “mr. baseball.”

    i have my issues with baseball as an institution, but then, i have issues with just about everythiing. I hate watching baseball on t.v., i’d rather watch fakename play golf. I only watch to see the red sox win or the yankees lose. go orioles!

  7. What position did you play Mr Baseball? I pitched and later moved to third where I remained until I switched to coaching. I loved coaching every time I got involved.

    I have another post on my first coaching gig coming up soon.

    Well you shall have to become a Ray’s fan, they are a very exciting team to watch and a masterpiece of smart management. They have the lowest payroll in the AL East, Baltimore is a close second. Being in the World Series was really fun last year and I would not be at all surprised to see them return.

    I am not surprised to hear that you have issues with baseball, as it perfectly reflects the cultural conflicts of America. I was lucky to see Jackie Robinson play a few times on TV and my favorite team was the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 50’s. Then I got to see Willie Mays play in a few games on TV. He is my all time favorite position player; he could do everything with a baseball enthusiasm that was unique. I saw him steal home once in a frigging all-star game.

  8. I played second base and right field for my high school team. I pulled for the Ray in last years World Series. But I am a true homer and all of my favorite teams come out of Washington. Since the Senators left I was stuck with the O’s. Cal Ripken Jr, Ozzie Smith, and Ricky Henderson were my favorite players.

    Baseball, like boxing have been going down hill for me. All the greats are gone! You should look into a book entitled “Only the Ball was White. A nice account of the old Negro League and it’s legendary players.

  9. Gosh, PT…how’d you ferret out that little nugget about the Philippines, which I presume was for my edification? Thanks! I was only 2, so I didn’t know….

    Although The Philippines was an American colony, we picked up basketball (also an American invention) and that’s what I played. I find baseball too slow; football too. Basketball is constant action.

    Basketball did not literally save my life, but it did transform it. That is a post which I will get around to doing someday. You will be particularly interested because it gets to the “power of one.”

  10. ee I loved to watch Henderson run, he changed the game when he got on base. And he hit lead off homers too. He just never looked like he was having fun out there, so damn serious looking. Mays on the other hand looked like a 12 year old boy every game. Baseball was inveneted for guys like Mays, and Evan Longoria.

    Mays 274 20HR 68 rbi Rookie of the Year
    Longoria 272 27 HR 85 rbi Rookie of the Year

    It was said of Mays that if he reached second you had to change your signals becuase he was so smart he could read them, even the indicator.

    Anarchist, baseball is anything but slow, it is much more cerebral than it appears, strategy changes quickly from pitch to pitch. It is the only sport where the defense has the ball. It teaches sacrifice and teamwork.

    The most difficult acomplishment in all of sports is hitting a big league fast ball with only half a second to decide to swing. The pitching rubber is 60/ 6″ from the plate, at 90 mph the ball is on you in .45 seconds (that is less than half a second. The really good hitters can hit it to a desired location which changes the strategy of the entire team. On every pitch!

  11. By the time I understood what baseball was Mays, Ernie Banks, Mantle, were all gone. The last great players I remember seeinng play were Aaron, Schmidt, and of course Reggie Jackson!

  12. I was so lucky to see the guys I saw. Saw the Yankees play the White Sox in spring training 1964. Mantle, Marris, Ford, Apparicio, Fox . (got the program somewhere)

    I saw Williams bat, Musial, and of course the guys you mention. (all on TV no replays….so ya watched closely)

    My one regret is not seeing Jo DiMaggio play. Did you know that he was voted the greatest living player in baseball in 1969? Think about who ws still playing then. He had been retired for 20 years. I did see him throw out the first pitch at a spring training game at Legends field in Tampa. I still have the pin on my cap. March 24 1995.

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