The Commerce Journal

May 24, 2012

The Boys of Summer: playing baseball, past and present

By Caleb Slinkard
Commerce Journall Staff

CALEB — Summertime and baseball are synonymous for me. Growing up, my twin brother and I were homeschooled, so we spent most of our afternoons somewhere on our family’s two acres, playing whatever sport was in season at the time.

Our property was sports heaven for two young teenagers. We had a basketball goal that was much shorter than regulation, allowing us to recreate Vince Carter-esque 360 dunks. A large slab of concrete that was originally going to be the foundation of a metal building provided a perfect street hockey surface. And a large field that made up our front yard was perfect for baseball.

Every afternoon in the summer after school, Joshua and I would gather up our gloves, bats and whatever baseball had survived so far and head out to the “mound,” a patch of dirt we had worn out by pitching there so long.

 Neither of us were great, but Josh had studied pitching techniques and was more accurate than I was, so he would usually pitch.

I set up about 45 feet away near the fence, which had become warped overtime as pitch after pitch hammered into it, causing the bottom of the fence to curve up and limiting its effectiveness as a backstop.

Two players aren’t enough to field full teams obviously, but we had quite an imagination. Josh and I would play nine inning games, complete with ghost runners and fielders.

Another fence about 200 feet away served as our homerun wall, and it was very fulfilling to be able to take Josh yard, especially during our home run contests. Often, our competitive natures would take over, and Josh and I would engage in arguments and the occasional fist fight. But we would quickly get over whatever squabble we had and return to our game.

We would try to drag our little brother Nathan outside to play, but since he was six years younger we wouldn’t really let him pitch or hit. So he was stuck in the outfield, and was often the subject of the pitcher’s wrath for dropping a fly ball. Needless to say, he didn’t usually play with us for long.

I’ve recently taken up baseball again, playing with a group of friends on Wednesday nights at a local baseball field and enjoying every minute of it. It reminds me of the hot summer afternoons Josh and I would engage in our imaginary battles on the baseball diamond, playing until the sun set, using trees for bases.