I happened to catch The Sandlot on TV the other day, which made me think of summers in Southern Indiana. In the summer, we played baseball. But unlike kids today, we played a lot without “coaching”. Our league played two nights during the week and practiced on Saturday mornings. Anything above and beyond that was by our own doing; not “organized”.
Today, baseball kids spend spring, summer, and fall on the diamond or in the cage playing ball with at least one parent looking over their shoulder. I bet if you ask most 9 year olds today what a ghost runner is, they’d tell you it’s some kind of comic book hero.
I know I sound like a grizzled old man (because I’ve been told I sound like a grizzled old man), but I think we had it right back in the day. Not only is there way more time dedicated to organized baseball, it looks nothing like organized baseball used to look. Here are 5 things you just don’t see in youth baseball anymore.
5. Riding To Away Games in the Back of a Pickup
No seat belts? No problem! If you were stupid enough to stand up while the truck is traveling down the highway, you deserved to fall out.
What’s that little Johnny? A little road rash?
Rub some dirt on it.
4. Playing in Blue Jeans
This is me and my dad before a game. He was an assistant coach. Note the fancy uniforms we had with the number on the front. All the other teams envied us.
What’s that little Johnny? You want uniform pants?
Go to Sears. Buy some Toughskins like the rest of us.
3. The Team Helmet
One team. One helmet. If you had a small head, you better wear a cap underneath it. If you had a big head, you had to squeeze that giant melon into it.
What’s that little Johnny? You’re afraid you’ll get head lice?
Shave your head.
2. Running Helmets
Unlike this guy, we didn’t wear caps under ours. It was just a flimsy piece of plastic that covered our ears. Why did we have these? Well, we only had one helmet, and if we got on base, the league had to at least give the perception that they cared if a runner was drilled in the ear with a frozen rope. You know, insurance purposes.
What’s that little Johnny? You’re afraid to wear these?
Get on base sometime. Then we can talk about it.
1. The Suicide
Concession stands have pretty much gone to coolers with 20 oz. bottles of soda. We had fountain soda. I guess moms got tired of hooking up CO2 tanks and such.
The Suicide was one of these paper cups filled with everything on tap. At our field, a suicide consisted of Pepsi, Sunkist, Mt. Dew, and Dr. Pepper. It was the Pee Wee version of a Long Island Iced Tea. It hit the spot after a grueling 4 innings of battle.
What’s that little Johnny? You just want a plain Pepsi?
Shut up and drink up, Nancy.