Betty D Cox Michael L Evans Thelma R Stamper Therese A Boerger Lady Indians go down in straight sets to Valley in sectional play Manchester hosts the inaugural Southern Ohio Cheer Challenge NAHS girls claim soccer sectional title Seas siblings are SHAC Cross-Country champions Lady Devils will collect fourth consecutive SHAC gold ball trophy Lady Hounds ousted in sectional tourney opener Peebles Lions Club holding Thanksgiving fund raiser FFA Fruit sales have begun, run until Nov. 18 Historical marker is repaired PES will present ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Eagle Creek Health and Rehabilitation Center Open House showcases new unit PES teacher honored by ACOVSD Board Friends of North Adams Library dedicate new brick Veterans Memorial Senior Profile: Landon Wright Geneva E Vogler Susan L Kremin Local golf teams complete play at state tournament Lady Dragons make school history with tournament win Browning gets hands-on look at NASA’s latest robotics Local beautician celebrates 80th birthday Health Department appeals to November voters Betty R Toller Senior Profile: Craig Horton Helen F Hoffer Super Saturday at Freedom Field Lady Dragons hang on for five-set victory over Manchester Seventh Grade Lady Hounds are SHAC Tournament champions Peebles Elementary announces September Students of the Month Rideout’s Muffler celebrating 40th anniversary this month Senior Citizens levy will appear on November ballot Bonnie J Orr Dorothy M Edenfield Senior Profile: Grace Barge Jerry Paquette Dragons get big 38-20 win at Green Manchester takes varsity team titles at West Union Invitational Lady Devils knock off Peebles on Volley For the Cure Night Manhunt ends with arrest of alleged bank robber Senior Profile: Kelsey Friend Lady Dragons finish as District Runners-Up Sectional pairings announced for volleyball and soccer 2 and 3 and worried is me Patricia Clift Adams County Humane Agent saves abandoned dogs and puppies Tourism had major economic impact on Adams County in 2015 Senator Portman brings his campaign to Adams County Betty E Lawson Sanborn NAHS holds National Honor Society induction ceremonies Harlan W Benjamin Joyce A Lafferty Senior Profile: Lee Hesler Dragons get SHAC win, 2-1 over Fairfield North Adams tops Peebles in ‘Kickin Cancer’ battles Double duty coming at Boys’ State Golf Tournament as West Union and North Adams both qualify Humane Society providing ‘Straws For Paws’ North Adams Elementary honors students and staff Russell Rockwell Julie L Wagner Hobert C Robinson Samuel D McClellan Brenda S Bare Clarencce Walker Jr Dolly M Hilterbrandt Jack Roush Day returns to Manchester West Union FFA has busy opening to school year ODOT opens new full-service Maintenance Facility Peebles Elementary introduces Peer Mentoring program Frost is recipient of Morgan Memorial Scholarship Peebles Fire Department has a new addition Heritage Days return to Tranquility Wheat Ridge Olde Thyme Herb Fair and Harvest Festival begins Friday Caraway Farm hosts annual Pumpkin Festival ‘Run Gio’ makes a visit to Adams County Senior Profile: Mackenzie Smith West Union, North Adams grab top two spots in Division III golf sectional tournament This memory will live with me forever Will M Stern West Union and North Adams-State Bound! Lillian N Smith Betty R Shelton Barbara ER Bohl Brenda Farley Senior Profile: Caitlyn Bradford Dragons roar to 40-0 Homecoming victory Greyhounds take three of four races at annual Adams County Meet Monarch Meadows holds grand opening Discovering a touch of glass on Erie’s Shores Junior L Conaway William B Brumley Sr Fred G Davis Ohio Valley FFA Officers for 2016-17 named ACRMC Emergency Care Center renamed after Dr. Bruce Ashley West Union holds football Homecoming festivities First graders pick the Sheriff Cross honored by ODNR with the prestigious Cardinal Award Renowned Ohio artist visits WUHS

Growing up the right way

WiffleBatBall_051713_rn_tif_-300x199By Mark Carpenter

As I have often said in these columns, I find the inspiration for writing in the oddest of places. This time it was my garage. On a warm Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, the assigned task at home was cleaning out what had become an unmanageable mess in our garage. In the process of doing so, I came across an old bin of sports equipment and my mind was jolted back by the sight of a perfectly exquisite yellow wiffle ball bat, a treasure of youth.

The sight of that treasure sent my mind racing back a long, long time to the days when that piece of equipment may have been the most important item in our neighborhood, at least the one that got the most use, maybe other than our bicycles. I began to think about how every day of the summer was spent the same way-finding an open yard or field to put together a neighborhood game of baseball. I simply call it “growing up the right way.”

There were all kinds of tricks to the trade when we put our daily games together. First of course was our version of “corking the ball and bat”, which meant finding some electrical tape and wrapping up the wiffle ball to make it much heavier and more resembling a real baseball. We were way too serious to just use a plain old wiffle ball with all those holes in it and to even the playing field, we also taped up the barrel of the wiffle ball bat for more power. Growing up the right way.

The next step was to find something to use as bases and a lot of old shorts and pieces of cardboard were sacrificed to serve as the bases that we trod on constantly. Then it was time to set down the rules, which were determined by the number of available players. Hit it so far for a single, a double, or a triple, ghost runner, and pitcher’s mound out. Of course, the single most important requirement was the boundaries for the home run. If the field for the day had a fence. all was good. If not, other arrangements had to be made, usually involving a roof or perhaps a line of trees, and then everyone had a glove. Even though it was just wiffle ball, it was not baseball without a glove. Growing up the right way.

On one particular field that we used often, we ditched the wiffle balls for the rubber balls that were designed to look like baseballs. Those babies could fly and we lost a number of them to the field on the other side of the fence ( much like “The Sandlot”) or to the windows of the factory if we hit the other way. When all the rubber balls were lost, that meant a trip either by bike or by parent to Richey’s in downtown Ripley to purchase a new three-pack and the games commenced again. Growing up the right way.

One of the other requirements of any game was the ability to imitate many of the professional players of the day, usually with the batting stance and swing. I knew then and can probably still remember all of the stances and swings of the Big Red Machine and one of the cries heard before every game might be “We’re the Reds!” At that time, they had stands outside of Riverfront Stadium where you could buy the plastic batting helmets of every team in the majors, and I had collected them all so I could literally be any team that I wanted by just putting a helmet on my head. Growing up the right way.

When we got really adventurous and since it was only a couple of minutes away by bike, we would take our game down to the baseball field at the old Ripley High School. There we got quite creative, because remember, a home run fence was an absolute necessity, so what did we do? We flipped the field, moving home plate to second base and hitting toward the dugout fences and back stop. Instant home run fence and just high enough that you could leap at the fence to rob your buddy of a dinger. Growing up the right way.

You may be wondering how we handled rainy days when we couldn’t play outside. Not a problem for me. A rainy day meant spreading out all of my baseball cards across my bed and sorting them in as many different ways as possible, reading the backs, and scouring the stats. Then it was to the table in our basement to lose myself in a game of APBA or Strat-O-Matic Baseball. If you’ve never had the joy of playing those board games, it’s your loss. Make out the lineups, fill out the scorecards, get your player cards in order, set up the game board, and start rolling those dice. I even spent the entire night after my junior prom with my buddies playing Strat-O-Matic. Growing up the nerd way.

As the sunlight began to dwindle, the games did not end as the neighborhood kids gathered under the light of the street lights for hide and seek or perhaps “kick the can.” I myself spent many an evening with bat in hand, sharpening my swing by blasting lightning bugs out of the air. Waiting for that bug to light up and then enter the strike zone, and BAM! Learned to swing from both sides of the plate that way. Growing up the right way.

Before I drove to work on Monday morning, I took a little trip around Ripley to check out what had become of all of our old homemade “diamonds.” Most of them have gone the way of a Polo Grounds, an Ebbets Field, or a Crosley Field, lost to progress and now full of houses or trailers.   As Francis Albert Sinatra sang it so well, “There used to be a ballpark right here.”

It was sort of a sad trip really as I remembered the times when life was so simple and so much fun. Todd, Randy, Jeff, and all the many others who were part of our “hood,” I miss those times, but one thought kept running through my mind as I drove by our old “shrines.” Growing up the right way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2016 People's Defender