Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Lazzari's Sports Roundup" - - - -6/6/15

Summertime Memories

As summertime approaches, I'm reminded of those warm days from long ago when it was all about ONE thing (at least for myself AND friends): BASEBALL. Some vivid memories I had as a kid that often rise to the surface:

*the smell of hot dogs at the Derby (CT) Little League snack bar
*having those same hot dogs bought for me by my LL coach whenever I pitched a good game
*shagging fly balls for HOURS during summer vacation (daytime)--with only a 64-oz. bottle of Pepsi to fuel us
*the exhilaration of knowing we would be shagging fly balls ONCE AGAIN the following day
*the camaraderie among friends--getting along with each other because, well, there was no other CHOICE
*how GOOD a case of sunburn felt after a day of hitting/chasing fly balls at Emmett O'Brien H.S. (CT)
*cool dips in a neighbor's swimming pool after chasing fly balls each day
*stopping play during "road games" whenever the Good Humor man would arrive daily
*using rocks as bases during backyard games
*the joy associated with catching your first SKY HIGH fly ball
*NOT choking up on a Wiffle ball bat
*kneeling in an on-deck circle for the first time--and trying to stay balanced
*how HUGE a Little League field appeared to a 9-year-old
*my very first 'Pitch-Back' net/screen
*visiting the batting cages in Milford (CT) whenever we could come up with a few bucks
*trying chewing tobacco (wrapped in bubble gum, like Rod Carew) for the first time--and getting violently ill
*Wiffle ball games NIGHTLY--after dinner--at a neighbor's "field"
*my Dad--still perspiring after a day in the "sweatshop", but still willing to play catch with me
*just having a catch with ANYONE--and the pure joy that two gloves and a baseball could bring
*occasional trips to West Haven to watch minor league baseball
*the excitement of checking box scores daily
*very few arguments among the neighborhood gang when calling pitches on the "honor system"
*getting my first "raspberry" on my backside
*chewing on the leather strings of baseball gloves
*trying to imitate Willie Stargell's pre-pitch antics at the plate while at LL games
*making sundials in the dirt at sandlots in order to get home for dinner on time
*getting home on time for dinner in order to be ALLOWED to play the next day
*keeping score in the dirt at those same sandlot games
*the smell of fresh-cut grass while fielding ground balls
*my Dad putting spotlights in our backyard so we could play Wiffle ball AT NIGHT
*my very first baseball glove--a Vada Pinson model
*4th of July MLB doubleheaders (NOT day-night/separate admission ones)
*my Dad ALWAYS providing me with chewing gum before a baseball game
*Wiffle ball tournaments at the Pine Street playground in Derby (CT)--with my coach, Leo, calling me "Babe"
*the excitement when any relative came to watch me play a baseball game
*my Dad wearing his tiny glove while playing catch with me--an old Red Schoendienst model
*my Mom's distinct voice--calling my name (Bobby!!) at dinnertime whenever I was playing a game a few houses away
*foot blisters from wearing stirrup socks that were too thin
*the sound of a neighbor's Dad whistling for him (LOUDLY) when it was time for dinner
*the aroma of my Mom's sauce wafting through the neighborhood as I ran home from a stickball game
*the TASTE of my Mom's sauce while carbo-loading after an energetic day filled with baseball
*breaking baseball bats and putting screws in them in order to CONTINUE using them
*the voices of Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy, and Ralph Kiner in the background (on Mets telecasts) as we played stickball in the street
*the sound of cleats on the dugout steps
*looking for the best buy on tennis balls at Caldor before playing stickball games
*folding our baseball caps and placing them in our back pockets--like the big-leaguers did
*Phil Rizzuto wishing a "Happy 90th birthday" to someone on Yankees telecasts
*Phil Rizzuto thanking someone for sending cannolis up to the broadcast booth
*trips to Hardee's in Derby (CT) at night to get a soda after a long day of playing baseball/soaking up sun
*stickball games played in the front AND back of Bradley School in Derby (CT)
*the sound of crickets at night while we were STILL playing ball
*the expression "It's too hot" NEVER being uttered by any kid in our neighborhood
*my Dad giving me his resin bag when I pitched--the small one he used for bowling
*wearing baseball hats/helmets of our favorite teams while playing baseball games
*making a Wiffle ball do strange things while pitching to friends
*the smell of a freshly-oiled baseball glove
*using electrical tape on Wiffle ball bats--just to make them look "cooler"
*bus trips with my Dad to Yankee Stadium
*blisters while wearing certain brands of baseball spikes--no matter WHAT socks you wore
*hitting "fungoes" until our hands bled--then changing hitters
*amazement at how my Mom was able to remove grass stains from baseball pants
*Finally, the joy of being able to reminisce in a column like this.

Enjoy the summer of '15, folks...................


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