Baseball memories stirred up

Sunday, May 26, 2002

With Steve's recent induction into Central High School's Athletic Hall of Fame, both as an individual and as a member of the 1962 state baseball champions, old memories of baseball came pleasantly to my mind.

Such memories go way back to the time Dad purchased our first radio. It was an Atwater Kent that we powered by a Delco System since we were still on the farm without electricity. It was the heyday of the St. Louis Cardinals' Gas House Gang at Sportsman's Park.

I think Dad purchased the radio for baseball, not for "Our Gal Sunday," nor "Fibber Magee and Molly." I sat beside him, listening intently to the games. Soon I could name all the players and the position each played. Names that come readily to mind are Andy High, Jimmy Fox, Jim Bottomley.

Years later I sat with Mama beside another radio, listening to a crucial game between the Giants and the Dodgers. We were rooting for the underdogs who were well behind but had runners on base. Bobby Thompson came to the plate for the Giants. Mama said, "I'll give you a dollar if he hits a home run." He did! We both jumped out of our chairs and applauded so vigorously we missed what the announcer was saying. It was the first time I ever won a baseball bet when I hadn't even bet.

When I married Edward, he was already deeply involved in baseball as a player for one of the Municipal Leagues and the Capahas. Fans would sit on the grassy bank along the first base line, encouraging their team and "helping" the umpires. Some of the names of these members of the Capahas I can reel off without stopping to think about them: Bill Crabtree, Jack Hunter, Joe Delassus, Paul Bray.

These were the nights when we could see a satellite moving across the dark sky like a slow moving star. It was something new and amazing in our lives.

When Steve was born, there was a little red mark on his forehead in the exact shape of a tiny baseball bat. It faded away in a few days. Later, when he started his baseball career, my thoughts would stroll back to that little red mark.

Steve started to play organized baseball at the earliest age possible. First there was Little League, then on up through all the other youth leagues, thrilling Edward and me with every play he made. He was a pitcher.

Many of the games were played behind center field of the Capaha diamond. I tried to behave myself in the bleachers, knowing that attending parents were prone to engage in strident acts that they wouldn't think of doing on any other occasion. Once I stood up, clapping and yelling, "Way to go, Stevie." Another mother stated quite loudly, "He's not the only one on the team." I sat down, feeling slapped and biting my tongue to keep from saying, "That's what you think!"

It was a given that Steve would play on Central High School's baseball team.

One of the memorable games was in a summer league, played at night at Capaha Park. It was a very foggy night. We were behind in the score but had men on the bases. The opposing pitcher threw a strike. The batter whacked it skyward, up, up, up into the dense fog. The fielders just stood around helplessly because they couldn't see where the baseball might reappear. Our base runners just kept on running and scored enough runs to win the game. Suddenly there was a dull thud when the ball reappeared in fair territory behind first base. Pandemonium ensued. We had won.

Any casualties down through the years? Yes, our frame garage. Edward and Steve had drawn a circle on the back siding which, if hit from the prescribed distance, was a strike. Hours and hours of practicing finally did too much damage. A garage for all the thrills Steve gave us? We felt we came out ahead. "Atta boy, kid," as Coach Brinkopf would say.

REJOICE!

Jean Bell Mosley is an author and longtime resident of Cape Girardeau.

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