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Monday, August 19, 2013

A Game of Catch


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In the mystic mists of my mind, baseball diamonds of summers past echo the sounds of long ago. A place where the baseball splits the humid Hoosier air, and voices of young men revel in the heat of summer. The pop of cowhide into leather is an announcement that a game of catch is underway.

Boys tend to remember a game of catch with their fathers, but for me it conjures memories of countless hours tossing a ball back and forth with my brother. Despite our sibling rivalry that exists to this day, I look upon those days with fondness. We were once told that if one of us caught a cold the other would catch it too.

I came to bat against him once with the bases loaded and nobody out. I dug into the batter’s box like the Mighty Casey, and awaited his first pitch. A high heater under my chin sent my backside into the dirt. As I dusted myself off I looked out at the mound – at my brother standing with a huge grin on his face.

In 1980, my brother was shot during an attempted robbery. I rushed home from my base in Germany to the naval hospital in Orlando, Florida where he was stationed. He was in poor shape when I arrived. I didn’t know what to say. I was stunned by his condition. I told him: “Don’t worry - only the good die young.” He started laughing despite the pain and then proceeded to get the nurse to kick me out of the ward.

A couple of weeks later he was out of the hospital recovering at home. My leave was almost up, and he stepped into the living room with both of our gloves, and a ball. We could not toss it far because of his injuries, but I knew everything was going to be fine.

It has been thirty years since our last game of catch. I sometimes close my eyes and hear our barbs at one another as we toss the baseball. As brothers we’re very competitive, but I wouldn’t trade those hours of tossing a baseball that built a bond lasting a lifetime.

 

12 comments:

  1. Great post, although my heart dropped at your brother being shot. I tell my kids all the time, especially when they're bickering, to look around. That's who'll be in your life your entire life.

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  2. Good memories and good thoughts. My baseball player son got a nerdy non-athletic dad, but I learned to play catch right alongside him at tee ball. Now I'm catching his fast balls and sinkers til' my hand hurts. The good memories are piling up.

    Looking forward to reading you blog.

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  3. That was an excellent post. Most of us spent a lot of time playing some form of baseball in our younger years, whether it was sandlot ball, or organized ball in youth leagues and such. I like the way you correlated playing catch with the bond between you and your brother. I hope you keep writing these stories.

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  4. What a great post! Thanks for sharing the bond between you and your brother with the rest of us!

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  5. What a polished little gem! Well done, Joe.

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  6. In the 1960's I spent countless hours playing catch with my two brothers and my best friend Dave from up the street. You brought all of those wonderful and innocent memories back with your poignant piece. Thank you.

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  7. A short, touching piece that honors the bond between you and your brother! I would love constructive feedback on my newly launched blog: www.imaginebraver.com.

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  8. My friends and I played catch in the hills behind our house (countless minutes chasing down balls) and played Home Run Derby using rocks for balls. That's still baseball to me

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