Senior Profile: Braydan Gaffin Senior Profile: Ethan Pennywitt Senior Center spreading Christmas cheer Stout named Administrator of Monarch Meadows Richard Francis Frank B Young William Scaff Gregory A Silvia Jr Davis now the winningest coach in Lady Devils basketball history Clutch plays give Green Devils OT win Eighth grade Greyhounds go on the road, grab 55-41 conference win at Whiteoak Lady Indians can’t hang on, fall to Eastern Brown Indians open up with big Homecoming win Greyhounds drilled by Fairfield in season opener How to sell 94 losses NAES leads local schools represented at PBIS Showcase PHS Beta Club recognized as National School of Distinction MES wins Momentum Award for second year running Fire destroys Winchester business Martha Becraft Cynthia A Sopher Clarys Holliday Basketball Special: 2017-18 Justice girls lead Peebles to win over Felicity Senior Profile: Adison Wright Lady Dragons slain by buzzer-beater Freshmen double-doubles lead Lady Hounds to win in opener County mourns passing of OVSD Board member Tom Reed Peebles man arrested in connection with woman’s disappearance Leaving a written legacy Not really ready to go back to pioneer days Peebles Jr./Sr. High School awarded PBIS Bronze Award North Adams High School named National Beta School of Distinction Operation Christmas Child collects 1,867 boxes Samantha Jameson honored as Young Professional of the Year Youth Deer Season again plagued by bad weather Humane Society hosting Ugly Christmas Sweater contest Dec. 9 Local centenarian celebrates birthday number 100 with family and friends Jerry R Pratt Edward Lykins Jr NAES students focus on spreading kindness Leland P Sautter Kelly B Anderson Dorothy Grooms Sharon D Brumley Anna J Grooms Local student/athletes awarded Wendy’s Heisman Awards Lady Devils JV triumph in opener Senior Profile: Colten Ball Peebles hosts SHAC Boys Preview Lady Devils fall in tough opener Janet A Pedicord Nettie R Fleshman Senior Profile: Sianna Mills North Adams boys ride the ‘3’ train to victory Lady Devils trounce Georgetown Senior Profile: Austin Stamper North Adams’ Williams named OIAAA Administrator of the Year County hoops squads on display in SHAC Girls Preview Going off the grid Michael L Chamblin A newer, kinder county pound takes a more humane approach TAG students are winners at Invention Convention Adams County Florist decks the halls Thomas J Reed Shirley A Stiffler Sharon G Wright Lottie J Meade June R Williams Lions and Cowboys and no Bengals, thankfully Senior Profile: Tyler Horsley North Adams sweeps Manchester Cheer Championships Indians face tough test in first pre-season scrimmage Senior Profile: Abby Faulkner Seas reflects on second state tournament experience NA’s Harper signs to continue hoops career at Rio Grande Hendrickson named Assistant Coach of the Year in Division III girls soccer Take the hint, it’s Thanksgiving time again Small Business Saturday in Adams County Art Council’s newest production will have you ‘laughing through your tears’ North Adams students working to help the homeless Grateful Richard A Graham #SawyerStrong Billy L Smalley With some help from Adams County, Ohio Statehouse now has wheelchair charging station Wenstrup announces re-election campaign Delta Dental provides two local schools with new drinking fountains Ernie McFarland honored by Ohio Bankers League Veterans Day parade, ceremony held in West Union Adams County schools celebrate Veterans Day Being the change November: As Mr. Seas it Protecting Ohio seniors from rising healthcare costs It’s November-have some soup and pie SHAC Boys Preview is Nov. 24 at Peebles June Hall Alice B Himes Claudia U Mitchell TRAFFIC ALERT: SR 41 restrictions set for Saturday

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 *

© The People's Defender - All rights reserved