Little League Memories | The Sunday Dispatch
The late Chicago Cub great Ernie Banks has been quoted by many over the years: “It’s a great day for baseball; let’s play two.
We’re in the middle of the Little League baseball and softball playoffs and nothing brings me back more than Little League baseball.
Now that I can cover games, it’s just a great feeling to see these young boys and girls doing their best to get the job and win for their team, family and friends.
I have to say that Little League has come a long way in many areas, but I feel like they’ve taken a step back as well.
No more wooden rackets and sneakers, composite rackets and spikes have replaced them.
No more woolen uniforms, man, I can still feel my skin itch, especially on a hot day.
Nowadays, with the material used for uniforms being so inexpensive, players can have their names on the uniforms and even keep them after the season. Can you imagine that?
All we had to keep at the end of the year were our hats.
Batting gloves, personal bats, baseball backpacks, specialty spikes, and expensive bats – all make up today’s little leaguer gear.
Even though a baseball glove is a glove, I can imagine the cost of buying one today. I was lucky that my godfather and uncle Tony Callaio bought me my little league glove and I ended up using it my entire baseball career from teen league through high school.
It was a bit big for my hand when I was 11, but my hand slowly grew into it and by the time I reached high school I was using one of the smallest gloves on the team. I did not care. I had a Carl Yastrzemski glove and my dad bought me a big 32 oz Al Kaline handle. bat.
Yes, a 32 oz. the bat was a big bat even for a 12 year old and that may explain why a lot of my hits never went to the left side of the field, but I loved that bat.
I kept that bat as long as I could until I cracked it. Of course, in those days, you had a few short nails, nailed them in strategic places, wrapped electrical tape over the nails, and you were back in business.
Today, referees inspect every piece of on-field equipment boys and girls use.
Last week, one of Township’s baseball boys couldn’t use his helmet because there was a small hairline fracture in the plastic. Sheesh, you practically needed a magnifying glass to see it.
One thing that hasn’t changed are the proud parents and grandparents in the stands. No matter what game I photograph, the voices are the same, but the faces and names change.
Cheers for a bad call, boos for a bad call, cheers for a home run, it’s the same thing.
Each player’s jokes are the same. It’s funny to hear an 11-year-old call a teammate.
“Come on kid, you can do it!” “Let’s go kid, he’s got nothing on you!”
That’s usually what I hear inside the canoe. Outfield players are generally calm.
This was not my case in my time. “Come on, let’s listen to some chatter,” shouted our coach.
We would have to shout it to our pitcher. “Let’s go Paulie, that’s a big fish, let’s go, let’s go!”
Yeah, I don’t get the whole fish reference, but the one that was hitting was that, a big fish.
Another difference I noticed in today’s player compared to last year is that he is more emotional than us. I see a lot of children upset if they get carried away to tears. As the saying goes, “There’s no crying in baseball.”
Yeah, it shocks me when I see a player cry for retiring or giving up a hit or a hit or, for God’s sake, a home run.
Ok, I understand when tears flow after a defeat, it’s natural, but I don’t remember doing that when I was playing. Not that I didn’t care, because I did, but crying at a game wasn’t something we did in my age bracket.
I think I only saw it once when I was 12, but this kid cried at the happy ending of a movie, so I’ll attribute it to a super emotional guy.
It was so much fun being on the sidelines capturing the action and knowing that I make a lot of people happy, on the winning side anyway.
It was always so cool to have your name in the newspaper, but it was even better when your picture was in it.
That too never happened much because there wasn’t a lot of newspaper coverage back then, not like today.
When I made stars when I was 12, my parents decided to take the family vacation on stars vacation, so when we got our official team photo, at the very end of the caption: “Missing from the photo: Tony Callaio. Makes my heart sad.
Oh yeah, the thing where Little League took a step back, the season starts too early and ends at the end of June. It is simply wrong.
quote of the week
“You never know what’s going to happen… And that’s the fun! That’s baseball. – Keiichi Arawi, Japanese artist
Thought of the week
“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is very good too.” –Yogi Berra
“Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand. – Léo Durocher