Monday, March 29, 2010
Thanks Ms. Judy! I now know the dirt patches were worth it!
Today is my son's 7th birthday. We celebrated over the weekend with a bowling party for several of his friends. We had a good time and some of the boys came home with us to spend the rest of the day playing with the new toys in the yard. They included a bounce back net to throw the baseball into to help you improve your fielding and a hit away system that helps you improve your hitting. The hit away is a pretty neat device that uses energy from a ball connected to two cables that wraps around a pole when the ball is moved forward. As the ball unwraps itself, you hit it again and the process starts over. As long as you are making good contact you can stand there and hit all day. That is exactly what we did. We hit all day! Reid hit until he got a blister on his hand and my back is still killing me. (well somebody had to show them how it is done) I was very surprised that the boys never asked to go inside to play video games or do something else. They just wanted to play ball. It did my heart good!
Reid also got a basketball goal to complete his sporting goods collection. He now has everything he needs for a life of outdoor fun and games. He can play baseball, golf, basketball, football, or ride his bike all without leaving his own yard. I'm jealous! I wish I was still 7 years old and could choose which sport I wanted to play today. But kids are different these days and I fear that little boys will never really know the joys that my neighborhood friends and I did as we were growing up. Ask yourself this question. When was the last time that you were riding around town and saw 10 to 12 boys playing a pick-up baseball game in the back yard? It just doesn't happen the same way today as it did in 1982.
Go back 28 years and take a drive down Lincoln Ave. Take a peek into the drive way of Judy Stone's house on a summer day. I promise you that the driveway will be littered with bicycles and the back yard full of boys choosing up teams and getting ready to do battle. Judy is the mother of Eric and Kevin and happens to own the perfect back yard for baseball. All the boys in the neighborhood gravitated to Judy's house. They age in ranges from 9 to 14. If you were 9 you better have game to play with this bunch because they showed you no mercy. This is where a young boy learned how to really play the game. Sure we all played organized ball in the local recreation league, but in Judy's back yard you had to learn how to pick fair teams, compose your own line up, make your own calls and argue them without making someone mad enough to go home, hit a curve ball or someones special pitch, speak the real baseball language and make fun of everyone on the other team (sometimes called character building). This was not just an occasional game. It was an EVERYDAY game. When I woke on a summer morning I called Kevin to see what time the game was going to start that day. We then started calling all of the neighborhood guys to give them the announced game time. Once the game started we played until you got a whistle from you father or a shout from your mother that it was supper time. The game never really ended, it was just continued until the next day. It was the same way summer after summer. I now know how lucky we were to be able to do that!!
Times are different 28 years later. Society is different. I'm not sure I would let Reid ride his bike as far as some of the kids had to ride to play in our everyday game. There are just too many bad people out there. Neighborhoods are not what they once were. People build big houses on the outskirts of town and families do not grow up together like they use to. Kids are given everything that they need to be entertained at all times. Video games, golf carts, and private swimming pools are now the norm. Families are now made up of two income households and kids can not be home all summer or have the freedom's that I had had because my mother was a school teacher. Gone is the desire to make your own fun by calling up the boys to play some ball. I wish it would all come back!
As I played ball with the boys Saturday, one of them said to me that he wanted to come over every weekend because this was fun. I had to agree with him. It was fun! As I watched them wear dirt patches in the grass in the backyard I thought of poor Ms. Judy's grass-less ball field. Eric told me a while back that the grass around home plate and the pitcher's mound took 20 years to grow back in after we were through playing in that wonderful back yard. Now I LOVE my yard and take great measures to make sure that it is groomed to perfection, but I could live with some dirt patches if Reid and the boys would just get the game back going again!
Thank you Ms. Judy! I now know the dirt patches were worth it!