For Love of the Game
“Baseball was, is, and always will be the best game in the world.” (Al Spalding)
*note this article appeared in CC town's Iron County Record in my weekly column
This week the baby of mine and Rigby’s “Fab Five” suited up to take the field as an All Star for Cedar National. This experience took me back a few years to my own front yard. I grew up in the original part of town- second east. We did not have much in those days, but we did have baseball. And our front yard was our own diamond. I marvel now how my mother never complained at the permanently imprinted baselines in her grass. First and third bases were formed by cracks in the sidewalk and second base was the spot on the lawn that was worn through with dirt. The home run line was marked by our line of lilac trees. This field always hosted a ball game on even the hottest summer days.
Most of my stories take place on second east or at the ball park. My kids will back me on that fact. That’s where most of my life lessons were learned and by far the best memories were made.
Our summers began and ended with baseball. Vacations, scout camps, and family gathering were all scheduled around baseball. We knew nothing of 4 wheelers, boats, or far away vacations. Not many people in “those days” did. Even if we had heard of these “toys,” we were much too poor to own them. But you know, I look back now and I liked it that way. It was a perfect way to grow up.
Bill Kringlen’s Rotary baseball was as good as religion in our home. He brought to our lives discipline and hard work. We knew that to miss a practice was a cardinal sin. Dedication was imprinted upon our list of must have values and no matter what you never quit. There were no leagues for girls in the ‘80’s, so I suited up and played with the boys.
Kringlen taught us baseball at its best. Fly balls, grounders, and the infield creep were fundamentals engrained upon our memories as well as the proper technique needed to hit the ball. We were more than fortunate that this bachelor chose our little Weaver clan as one of the many families that he would serve as not only coach to but also as surrogate uncle. His love of baseball combined with his love of youth created the perfect duet. If you happen to come across a coach like Kringlen, be sure to say thanks. Good coaches don’t simply build ball players. They build great women and men.
Come Saturday, Little League baseball will take a final bow for its regular season. Ball players will dream about their time on the dirt and the future they are sure to garner on the college playing field. These dreams will be set to the lullaby of the crickets and the sound of the baseball as it zings through the air. There is nothing better than summer air and the sound of the ball hitting the bat- it is simply intoxicating.