Play Ball!

Do you know what tomorrow is?

The first day of spring training!

pe130127Well, actually, it opened today with a Boston split squad against Northeastern University (a 3-0 win) and Boston College (an 11-1 win) {I guess the Red Sox need a little morale booster before the real games begin}, but actual Grapefruit League games start tomorrow with four games scheduled — the Tigers against the Braves, Reds and Indians, Royals and Rangers and Padres against Mariners. By weekend’s end every team will play on the diamond.

When I hear of Spring Training, my mind always wanders back to the 1950s movie Kill the Umpire starring William Bendix. It’s definitely my favorite baseball movie.

Haven’t ever heard about it?

Well, Bendix plays Bill Johnson, a former baseball player who hates umpires. His fanatical devotion to the game has cost him several jobs. And matters are complicated by the fact his father-in-law is a retired umpire. Since he has a hard time staying employed during the baseball season, his father-in-law forces him to matriculate in an umpire school. While he initially tries to get himself expelled, he ultimately comes to enjoy his new job. He becomes an ump in the minor leagues, where blurred vision, caused by using the wrong eyedrops, causes him to see everything twice, earning him a nickname as “Two-Call” Johnson. When he calls a popular player out at home plate, the crowd accuses him of dishonesty, leading to a near-riot during which the involved player is knocked out cold. Johnson must disguise himself as a woman and engage in several subterfuges to get to an important game on time, but his reputation is restored when the player he had originally called against publicly praises him for his honesty as an umpire. The crowd accepts this, although quickly reversing its opinion again after Johnson inevitably, makes another call they do not like. It’s one madcap adventure after another with such comedic heavyweights like Bendix, Ray Collins and William Frawley.

Now, I have to tell you, baseball is not my favorite sport. Football is. But baseball is a great summer diversion. When you hear about Spring Training starting, you know the long days of winter are fading fast — and that’s coming from someone who appreciates the cold and white stuff.

When I was young, I couldn’t wait for the season. I was in awe of Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Sandy Koufax, et al in the late 50s-early 60s. I was heartbroken when the Dodgers and Giants migrated west, although I can say I did get to see some games at Ebbets Field and the Polo Grounds. I was initially a Giants fan back then, but joined the Yankee bandwagon when the team moved. I remember rushing home to watch the final game of the 1960 World Series. I missed most of the game, but got home just in time to watch the Yankees squander a 7-4 lead in the eighth inning and score two in the top of the ninth to tie the score at 9-9, only to watch Bill Mazeroski — not known as a power hitter — sail a Ralph Terry 1-0 pitch just over the left field wall in Forbes Field, Pittsburgh.

When the Mets came along in 1962, I switched back to National League allegiance. They were so bad (40-120 that first year), I guess I felt I could play for them. And they had such a list of characters in those early years … Marvelous Marv Throneberry … Roger Craig {18 straight losses in 1963} … Choo Choo Coleman … Ed Kranepool … Gil Hodges, Richie Ashburn and Don Zimmer (well past their prime) … and the irascible Casey Stengel as manager.

I sort of lost interest in baseball after the strike year of 1981, but started to get back into it about four years ago after watching games with my dad, a staunch Yankee fan.

I still prefer football … especially games in the snow. But watching baseball gives you an opportunity to multitask between pitches and innings.

At any rate, it’s time to Play Ball!

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you’ll develop a habit of putting the right thoughts in — thoughts of faith, thoughts of hope, encouraging thoughts, can do thoughts — eventually your mind will be transformed.

Advertisements

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in baseball, family, joy, Memories, sports and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s