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Monday, September 30, 2013

The Old Ballpark

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In the eternal green pastures of my youth there is an old ballpark. Where all games were competitive, every day was Sunday, and there were no rainouts.

 My dad had just finished cutting the grass when I noticed he was painting “Cubs Park” on the front of the corn crib. I ask dad what he was doing, and he replied that he was building a ballpark. I was only ten, but knew we lived out in the boondocks. Long before “The Field of Dreams” my dad believed that if you built a diamond, people would show up to play.

It was the park where at ten years old I was jerked out of the lineup for booting three balls in an inning. With my tear-stained face humiliated by having been jerked out of the lineup, I spent the afternoon glaring at the second baseman.

There was a backstop made of saplings and chicken wire about eight feet wide. It protected the ball from rolling into the dry creek bed that ran parallel to the field. The huge sycamore tree marked the leftfield foul pole. In the leftfield power alley a second dry creek bed marked the home run boundary. On the fly into the creek there was a home run (watch out for the snakes when retrieving the ball). Our ground rules were a little odd when it came to the centerfield to rightfield foul line. The boundary was marked by buried ceramic blocks. Outfielders were allowed to run beyond the boundary but anything that landed or dropped was considered home runs.  Dad made bases out of feed sacks filled with dirt: The field was ready for the games to begin.

It wasn’t long before the field was noticed, and we started playing both slow and fast pitch softball on Sundays. Family, friends, and strangers now stopped to play the game.

When I pass the field today, I often think of those times. I can hear the cheering, cussing, and the sound of the crack of the bat. Nature has reclaimed her field: It is now overgrown with weeds, saplings; the bases are occupied with field mice, rabbits, and snakes. The backstop is gone, no signs of any games ever being played. Now my dad is gone as are most of the older men who played those games.

The summer before my father’s passing we stood where the backstop once had its place, and looked over the field. Neither of us said a word. We just looked at each other and smiled.





  1. Great writing. Really enjoyed reading about these memories of your youth. I played a lot of ball as a kid, too, though seldom if ever with my dad.

  2. I miss papaw and him playing baseball with us as kids when we were growing up!! Thanks for sharing uncle Joe it's always nice to hear stories about papaw perry

  3. Brings back a lot of memories--both of my Dad (a baseball player) and my own softball days!

  4. Hi Perry, I liked this very much :)

  5. Wonderful post that made me recall our old ball field. Living in the suburbs, ours was in the backyard for weekly Sunday afternoon Wiffle Ball games and barbeque. Every hit not caught or fielded before the ball stopped rolling was a single, and a line drive hitting the opposite fence on the fly was a home run. Over the fence was an out because no one wanted to contest with the neighbor's dog to retrieve the wiffle ball. Great times with my own Dad, family and neighbors. Thanks for sharing and taking me back!

  6. This was really nice to read and it made me miss my Dad, and my whole childhood memories suddenly feel a lot closer

    I wasn't a Cubs fan. My Dads kids could only root for the Bucs but I did love field of dreams and all Kinsella's other novels too

    Thanks for following me on twitter. I'm @duffybarkley there

    Dixie Goode

  7. Great story! You're obviously a writer because you kept my attention, which is a small miracle!

  8. Nice, enjoyed it. Reminded me of setting up a diamond for my son in the backyard, when he was in tee-ball.

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  10. Good post. Enjoyable read. We grew up in similar times. I remember my dad and I carving a ball diamond out of a hay field when I was 12, well before Kevin Costner did it. btw... Posting at 4:00AM is not good for your health.

  11. A Cards fan here, but I remember those long ago summers, playing ball all day and listening to Harry Caray, the StLouis play by play man on the radio, before he deserted us for the hated Cubbies. Anyway, well written.