Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 08/22/2022
Somewhere around the ages of 8-12 I did what all the boys did in our urban setting. We tried out for Little League. (When you were older, it was the Babe Ruth League.) This was a rite of passage in the summer, before you were expected to have a job and when schools were basically shut from June 1 through Labor Day. (And when two working parents or a non-intact home were the exceptions. However, my mother did work.)
Some years ago, when my wife’s hip replacement surgery prevented her from air travel for a while, we experienced one of my great dreams (and one of her nightmares) and travelled from Boston to LA by train. As Amtrak snaked through the backyards of America, we saw a thousand ball fields.
This reiminiscense is prompted by the fabled and iconic Little League World Series currently being contested in South Williamsport, PA, with 20 teams from around the world.
We played for love of the game. It was our opportunity to play in organized sports with all the trappings of the real thing (when players took subways to the ballpark in Brooklyn and no one was being paid $190 million to hit .225 playing shortstop). Our coaches and the umpires were without pity. We were screamed at, threatened, cursed,, and otherwise bullied to play better.
It was great.
I was pretty nervous in the field and prone to errors. But, lord, could I hit! At the end of one season a coach asked me to bring in my birth certificate. “Do you think I lied about my age?” I asked.
“No, Weiss, despite it all, you made the All-Star team and we need proof of your age. I also need some proof that you know what the hell you’re doing out there.”
Those weren’t days of participation trophies, law suits over tough coaches or prayers on the field, or fears about head injuries or over-zealous parents.
We were the real “boys of summer.” We would give our own play-by-play accounts using illeism: “Weiss hit the winning runs home with a double over the right-fielder’s head.”
Weiss still remembers.
It’s a wonderful feeling to be a bridge to the past and to unite generations. The sport of baseball does that, and I am just a part of it. —Vin Scully (the best baseball broadcaster ever, recently passed away, who broadcast for the Dodgers for 67 years)
You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. —Jim Bouton (former pitcher and author of the controversial Ball Four)
Baseball is more than a game. It’s like life played out on a field. —Juliana Hatfield
Weiss, are you taking stupid pills again? —My coach, after I committed an error at shortstop.