Play Base Ball, America

 Flooded field of memories

Hope you watched the White Sox play the Yankees next to the Field of Dreams in the middle of Iowa cornfields Thursday evening 08-12-21. Worth it just to see the players emerge from the corn surrounding the outfield. No Shoeless Joe Jackson but the same reverence for the game of Base Ball. (Pronounced in two separate and distinct words like James Earl Jones in the movie. That’s how it was printed in the early days.) 

→ Bonus: Not one player took a knee during the National Anthem last night! (Or was shown doing so.)

The field was built not far from the more modest original movie field. Played catch with Number One Son there years ago. Yeah, it was magic. 

Ashippun picnic 1960
Rock River amateur baseball on a July 1960 Sunday afternoon in Dodge County WI. Professional wrestling and carnival rides at the rural community festival, too.

Baseball, seems to this old guy, is a rural sport at its heart. Growing up, we farm kids scrambled out of the school bus and convened at a designated farm field for a little baseball. Softball, actually. An alfalfa field at Cousin John’s teetered on a steep hillside. On the Statz farm, hogs cowered in the corner of the pen until they decided to investigate the proceedings. Only on that field did we slide into the bases — first base, included.

Our season was too short: the few nice days in March and early April before the farm fields required our labor. We call them “baseball clubs” today because that is how the major leagues began in the latter half of the 19th Century: membership clubs for affluent gents with leisure time.

Greatest baseball play evah! 

At Sacred Hearts parochial grade school in Sun Prairie, we older kids played on the blacktopped church parking lot. It was graded on two levels, banking down to the school building. From the batters box one could see only the heads of the outfielders on that lower level. One of us hit a high fly ball to the outfield. A nerdy, decidedly unathletic kid named George threw his glove up in the air. The ball smacked into it and George caught the glove with the ball in it on the way down. George was a hero ever after. Catholics believe in miracles; we had just seen one. 

Speaking of the Brewers, who could have guessed they would have the second-best record in the National League with minimal contributions from Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain?

Another national treasure: Bob Uecker. Got a T-shirt from young guys down the row after accepting their dare to chug beer from a container the size of a large popcorn bucket. That was at old County Stadium. The T-shirt reads “Uecker’s Pukers. We’re not Leavin’ till we’re Heavin’. Caught a foul ball in one of those buckets of beer. (Cushioned the impact.) Can’t get those beer buckets anymore. Major League Baseball should stop pricing itself out of family fun. And quit renaming ball parks! Tradition! 


Did Ken Burns ever make a PBS series on soccer? No, he did not!


It is a national loss that too many kids grow up today never playing baseball. Or any sport. (The City of Madison took down the baseball backstop at Orchard Ridge park last summer.)

Blaska’s Bottom Line: If you’ve never, pull over on a country road and smell the growing corn. It’s a sweet and honest smell. Like neatsfoot oil on a well-worn baseball glove. Hooray for the Home Talent baseball league! Must see a Madison Mallards game this summer.

Should the Cubs be relegated to Triple A?

About David Blaska

Madison WI
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6 Responses to Play Base Ball, America

  1. Steve says:

    Went to a Mallards game a couple of weeks ago–talk about pricing the game out of family fun! And the net strewn across all the infield seats really hinders one’s ability to follow the ball. It was much better in the early 2000s when tix cost $5 and you could hang out along the fence and chat with the players and taunt the opposing team.

    Like

  2. Pasco says:

    At St. Bernard’s in Middleton we played on the black top too. They made us stop in 6th grade. Too many windows broken. Back in the early sixties it was city slickers vs the farm boys. No kneeling except for long periods at the alter for minor discretions.
    PS both groups were proud of their nick names.⚾️⚾️⚾️ How about those White Sox!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sir Arthur says:

    Watched the game in Iowa last night. Fantastic! Great atmosphere! Great game! Baseball is still great. Too bad kids don’t play it enough anymore. Only in organized settings – Little League, HS, Legion ball, and then young pitchers are limited to the number of throws they can make. Never have a real chance to build up their arms. I’m so glad that we didn’t have the distractions in the ’50s and ’60s to keep us off the ball field. We played all the time. The only limits we had on our pitches or our throws was when it got too dark to play. Many of us continued playing baseball right into high school, and the result was our school’s first two conference baseball championships. We loved the game, and still get together 2-3 times a year, over 50 years later, and talk baseball. Great game – current warts and all.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One eye says:

    As far as Major League BB goes, last night’s game was lipstick on a pig.

    No thanks wokies!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Bill says:

    Reminds me of the days of my misbegotten youth. There we were in 4-5-6th grade playing baseball in the elementary school yard where I spent some time growing up in St. Charles Ill before I moved to the Madison area.

    I sucked at sports, always have and always will, but am reminded by the game played last night, of the innocence of my youth playing baseball, going for bike rides and playing in Ferguson Creek. For us young’ uns didn’t have to care about this place called Viet Nam, nor the Watts, or the L.A. or the Newark, or the Chicago riots, the S.D.S., the weathermen, and other things. We just concentrated on baseball and having fun.

    That is the way I want to remember my youth. Having fun with my friends.

    Now that I reach the end I realize that in the end, it all goes so quickly. You have no idea on just how quick it goes.

    Pray, Pray Hard.

    We all make mistakes, we all don’t ask forgiveness!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. georgessson says:

    Thanks, David, a welcome & wholesome segue from the current bad-new only MSM. Yep, so many memories of following fave players, some lucky few owned the “signed” Rawlins gloves. And we enjoyed playin’ the centuries old game on so many levels: Little League, local leagues, HS & College. Not always played well, but always played with heart and best skills available.

    Saw the movie, so well acquainted w/ the “sap” factor, but it was a moving and fun movie, done well.

    Last night was an extension of all our remembrances and a joy to view.

    Liked by 2 people

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