Tag Archives: childhood memories

The joy of throwing a ball at a wall

Just as I did 1,000 times as a kid, today I threw a rubber baseball against a wall.

Growing up, I spent countless hours practicing my pitching and fielding by throwing a rubber baseball or tennis ball at the stone and brick steps leading to the front door of our suburban Cleveland home.

Me throwing a baseball

Tossing a ball to one of my sons a few years back in central California.

Over those many years, I strengthened my arm and improved my glove work. But I also decapitated dozens of my mother’s tulips growing by the steps and startled my dad inside the house whenever one of my high hard ones slammed into the aluminum screen door.

Looking back, I realize my parents showed remarkable tolerance over the pop… pop… bang! coming off my adolescent arm.

I decided to try the arm out again today as a way to get in some exercise and to celebrate my birthday. (I won’t give away my age, but I predate expansion baseball, and by that I mean the Angels and Mets.) So I put on my Indians cap, picked up my Al Kaline signature mitt that I’ve had since seventh grade and pedaled over to the nearby high school, where earlier I’d spotted what I figured was the perfect wall. One particular cement block made for an excellent strike zone, and I threw a rubber ball embossed with faux baseball seams against it.

For about half an hour, in my head I was back on Erieview Road, pushing off against the edge of the tree lawn grass that served as mound and rubber, and Mom occasionally emerging to shout, “Danny, watch out for my tulips!”

It has been a good birthday.





Here’s to the Irish, especially the baseball players, on St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s day, everyone! I was pleased to find that there is an Irish-American Baseball Hall of Fame, thanks to a Google search and the Eddie Kranepool Society Mets blog. The 2011 inductions are on today at Foley’s Pub in New York City.

The Irish and baseball have been joined like a firm grip on a pint of Guinness since the game got started on America’s eastern seaboard in the 19th century.

I’m of Irish descent myself and proud of it.  I grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio,  a suburb populated mainly by Catholics (Irish, Italian and Slavic) and Jews.  The typical lineup for the teams I played on looked something like this:

Day, SS

Steinberg, LF

DiGiacamo, 1B

Kowalski, RF

Kennedy, CF

Rabinowitz, C

Jedinek, 3B

Merriman, 2B

Vincenzo, P

Most of those names are made up – I’m going to have to probe the memory banks to recall some of the real lineups – but the tone is right.

With its ethnic and racial diversity, modern baseball is more than ever a game for everyone. May the sun be always on its face.