Jimmy Nelson Kathryn Boldman James E Downs Manchester grad enjoys a “Super” Experience Taking Adams County patriotism to the state capitol John P Sininger Jo Ann Hayslip Harvey U Schrock Eunice G. Burgess Senior Profile: Kaulen St Michael Cox Racing returns to Brushcreek on April 2 Southern Hills Athletic Conference holds Winter Sports Awards ceremony County provides multiple walking venues Adams County parks are tobacco-free Rhoads Memorial 5K Run/Walk is April 9 Peebles Elem. Staff of the Month Floyd E Maddy Raymond A Holt Derrick Poe Spencer E McFarland Mintie F Rogers Roberta Eylar Big Time Wrestling coming to NAHS Carl Tomlin CTC students help with storm clean-up Opening the door for high-tech jobs Jack R Slyger Thomas Stratton Jr Eastern Lady Warriors headed to Final Four Senior Profile: Logan Rogers Southern Hills Athletic Conference names 2016-17 All-Conference Basketball Teams Winchester PD continues assault on drugs Alonso joins Defender staff Sheriff to set up outpost in Manchester Johnson named OEDA Membership Chairperson Sherman E Young Ruth Jackman ‘Kitten Season’ comes to Ohio Manchester Council votes to disband PD Olde Wayside Inn under new management Two overdose on heroin Senior Profile: Ethan Parrett Adams/Brown Youth League holds postseason tourney Three nights of pain Furious rally falls short, Lady Devils again eliminated in Div. III district finals, 45-42 Oscar Moore Barbara J Finnegan Ohio Senate and House honor Miss Ohio USA Michael Eldridge Frances Towner Thelma R Williamson BREAKING NEWS: Manchester council votes to eliminate police department Before all dogs go to heaven Adaptive Bikes delivered in Adams County Adams County Junior Fair Market Hog Identification plans announced for 2017 Local couple takes ownership of two local businesses Jo Hanson to retire after nearly 50 years in banking Sierra Club, hero or villain? Greyhounds, Devils are runners-up in SHAC Tournaments Harold L Purdin Senior Profile: Jacob Wickerham 98-year old author publishes first book Early March storm packs destructive punch Jeeps rally in second half to end the Peebles season How about some post season awards? Thanks for all the great sports coverage PHS Principal hopes to expand students’ world view When spring becomes a promise Greg Lorenz Clay shoots the lights out, shoots down Greyhounds’ season Senior Profile: Savannah McFarland Devils put up a good fight, but fall to Portsmouth in sectional final, 50-43 Second half comeback sends Lady Devils to district finals for third straight year Butts honored by Southeast District Athletic Board North Adams Elementary holds Random Acts of Kindness Week Chester W Eyre BREAKING NEWS: March makes its entrance with force WUES kicks off Right to Read Week with guest readers WUHS students see Aronoff show on the life of Edgar Allan Poe Local high school seniors winners of Wendy’s Heisman Awards The emotions of a senior year Market Hog Clinic scheduled for March 4 Venture Hawks fall to Scioto County Senior Profile : Colton Thornburg Lady Dragons’ season ends with sectional loss to Lynchburg Devils advance in tourney with convincing win over West Union, will face Portsmouth for sectional title Wenstrup selected as Vice Chairman of House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Adams County 4-H Shooting Sports to hold fund raiser Linda M Howland Nellie B Hayslip Russell E Bailey Gladys M Perdue Commissioners meet in Columbus with DP&L CEO Tom Raga Missing the Dirtrollers The farms that aren’t forgotten Flora Hilderbran Commissioners to meet with DP&L officials New state graduation requirements called a ‘train wreck’ Catching up with Keller Senior Profile: Justin Knechtly

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.

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