I received a Facebook friend request from a former teammate from my Little League baseball days earlier this week and I must admit it brought back a flood of memories from those “glory days” of mine on the diamond.
First, let me once again give a thumbs up to Facebook.
This type of thing was designed for someone just like me, who values childhood memories and friends. While I honestly don’t think I have talked to or even heard from this former teammate since our playing days, when I saw his name I knew immediately who he was. I look forward to the two of us catching up and filling in the gaps left by time.
Growing up in a small town (cue up John Mellencamp music here), there wasn’t as many recreation teams back in those days. While I’m sure the department has grown since, there was something about having a handful of teams competing.
Your friends were often on the opposing teams and since boys will always be boys, it often led to some friendly arguments and such, although at the time it didn’t seem all that friendly. I actually remember a couple of fights.
There’s no need for me to try and pretend I was the next edition of Babe Ruth back in the day. Truth is I was probably one of the least athletic players in the league but I enjoyed the sport and knew this would be a way to hang out with my friends and have a good time doing it.
By the time of my final season in Little League play my team, the Red Sox, had positioned itself to battle for the league title. It all came down to the final game of the season against the hated Braves (not the Atlanta Braves mind you). In the end, we lost in stunning fashion as the Braves scored two runs to take the victory in the bottom of the last inning. Shock, disbelief, anger and all sorts of emotions ran through me and my teammates that night at the ballpark. I must say it was devastating.
Still, the times enjoyed during those years were special. Too often, we don’t realize it at the time, assuming it will simply be that way always. Nights at the local recreation complex were special and I still think about those years, those teammates, those memories today.
Many of my Red Sox teammates did go on to have pretty successful high school athletic careers (I was not one of them.) Still, for a few years we bonded as friends and teammates and I guess once you’re part of a team, it always stays with you.
I have to drive by my old recreation complex stomping grounds soon and see just how different things look today. Maybe if I’m lucky, I will be able to picture a group of teammates and friends working together and having fun at the same time.
Those years are long gone but in some ways they are never really gone. As long as we remember them and keep them alive, only if in our hearts and minds, then they will live on forever.
• Small communities are often held together by their local football teams. That’s no different here in Barrow County. Apalachee and Winder-Barrow will return to the gridiron for their first official contests of 2010 this Friday. No doubt large crowds will be on hand cheering the Wildcats and Bulldoggs on. Kenny Chesney’s new song “The Boys of Fall” sums up football about as well as any I’ve heard. For me, high school football will never grow old, never become something I am not interested in.
As Kenny sings, “Well it’s turn and face the Stars and Stripes. It’s fighting back them butterflies. It’s call it in the air, alright ‘yes sir we want the ball.’ And it’s knocking heads and talking trash. It’s slinging mud and dirt and grass. It’s I got your number, I got your back when your back’s against the wall. You mess with one man you got us all. The boys of fall...”
Chris Bridges is editor of the Barrow Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.