By Ken Anderson
“The days are getting longer and there is talk of the truck leaving Fenway Park for spring training,” my initial draft started. And then, while channel surfing, I remembered a recommendation to watch a movie, “The Saint of Second Chances.”
It’s about Mike Veeck (son of Bill, owner of several baseball teams), who owns several minor league teams, and his search for redemption. Redemption from a “Disco Sucks” stunt in Chicago and redemption in his father’s eye. It’s about redemption and love.
“Heaven is a ballpark full of people,” quoth Mike Veeck. Heaven is a team with a girl playing on it: Ila Borders played on his team in St. Paul. Years ago, a number of girls I knew played baseball in Concord.
I had read about Mike Veeck and his daughter in Sports Illustrated and the imminent loss of her eyesight. He took her to every place he thought she should see. I knew the story and it still knocked me back.
And we watched it, laughing and crying, all the way through its beautiful story. Take a break from your stream and watch the movie. You will not be disappointed and you will be filled with love.
Back to baseball in Concord.
I played baseball on, and against, teams with people I still remember and know. In the olden days, there were Concord and West Concord teams. There were frightful hitters in West Concord who later became teammates: Alden, Aronie, Damon, Loughlin (more frightful as a pitcher than a hitter), to name a few. And local (Concord) guys like Boynton, Blair and Maurer, among others.
One memorable game for me was when I pitched and my brother Bill caught. It started to rain and one of our teammates was called out at first base to end the game. We knew he was safe and we commiserated all the way across Emerson Playground to 14 Hubbard Street. I am sure we have had closer moments in our lives, but I remember that day like it was yesterday.
A generation later, we signed up our son and two daughters as soon as they were eligible. The love affair which started with me in Little League blossomed as they started to play baseball.
Those days were special. Nothing is better than playing catch with your kid. The two of you tossing the ball back and forth, chatting about baseball and other (lesser) things. Holding your glove as a target and your kid hitting it throw after throw; throwing the ball to your kid who confidently catches the ball right in front of their face without flinching; directing them to the bush where your errant throw ended up! Moments to treasure.
I coached for 13 years with and against some of my old teammates and taught many of their sons and daughters the basics and intricacies of the game!
Early in the baseball season, we undertook activities to raise money to support the program: selling ads for an ad book; which had photos of all the teams; running a field day with clinics involving high school players, boys and girls; each player (and a coach or two) getting their picture taken for their own baseball card; players selling chocolate bars.
In those days, league officials would reserve a location, a room in the cellar of Hunt Gym, for example, and people would come in and register their children.
Things are different these days. No driving required, just go to this link in the comfort of your home: www.ccyb.org. I encourage you to get your children registered so that you and your kids can share in the unequaled joy of baseball.