July 10, 1967 — It was a very good Time.

Midget B1 Champions, July 10, 1967

In case you were wondering, I’m the tall, lanky, pencil-necked geek in the back row, center.  I was twelve years old, and at six feet, way taller than most of my classmates.  I was  probably every bit of 125 pounds, sopping wet.  Occasionally, I was referred to as “Bean Pole,” but that was probably because the Muppet character, Beaker, had not yet been created.

This photo was taken the day we received our ribbons as the Midget B1 Champions for YMCA baseball, although we represented Del City Elementary School.  This, and the previous season, were the only time I ever played team sports in school.  I never even had gym class after sixth grade, because marching band qualified as exercise—somehow.  Actually, I think it had more to do with there not being enough hours in the day to do both.  All that has changed these days, I hear, but I really regret not getting the chance to go further with baseball.

See the guy directly in front of me, in the middle, sitting on the bench?  That kid hit the most home runs for the season—three.  Guess who hit the second most?  Yep, yours truly.  That was a pretty amazing accomplishment, considering that the previous season I was the strike-out king.  I was terrified to swing at that ball, and the pitchers knew it.  They were always trying to get close to me or hit me with the ball, and thank God for baseball helmets.  I took one full-on in the left temple one time.  Didn’t hurt a bit, and of course that put me on first base.  My dad came to the rescue.  He took a baseball, drilled a hole through it, attached 60-pound-test fishing line, and attached the other end to a swivel on a stick made from a croquet mallet.  He then proceeded to swing the ball in a large circle, and I got to practice hitting curve balls.  My dad could build anything out of nothing.  I guess I inherited some of that, because I keep a lot of nothing around in case I need to build anything.

I learned a lot playing with those guys, and some are still my friends today.  Most of them I have lost touch with, and that’s sad… for the most part.  The kid sitting third from the right, the one slumped down, was sent up the river for kidnapping young boys, taking them across state line, and sexually abusing them.  I’m not exactly eager to reconnect with him.  The kid on the front, far right, was the son of one of the coaches, the man to my left, your right.  This kid was my best friend for awhile, but something happened not long after this photo was taken (at the end of the season) to drive a wedge between us, and I never figured out what it was.  I’ve always had trouble making (and keeping) friends, but I’m hoping that this time it wasn’t me.  If you’re out there, Wayne—can we talk?  His dad, the main coach, was a great guy, and I appreciate greatly how he gave so much to me and the other boys.   I saw recently that he had died a few years ago, and I was quite sad to hear it.  He was a WWII veteran, as was my own father.

The anniversary of my own dad’s death was just over a week ago, but it’s been fifteen years now, and this time the day came and went without my notice.  Either it’s getting easier, or my memory is getting worse; I’m not sure.  I doubt I’ll forget my mother’s, however, even though it’s been nearly two years longer (yes, folks—I’m an “orphan.” *wink*).

What I am sure about, though, is that 1967 was a very, very good year.

I could sure use another 1967 right now.


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