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Teach
01-10-2018, 08:50 PM
The baseball hit me in the stomach. Yet I felt no pain. But more importantly – no baseball. The last thing I remember is the ball bounding down the bleacher steps.

April, 1953. Fenway Park. My two fifth-grade friends, Tony and Barry, and I are headed into Fenway Park to catch a pre-season game between the Red Sox and Braves. We believe it may be our last chance to see the Braves, in person.

That previous fall, the former Boston Braves left “Beantown” to begin play in Milwaukee. That day, the Braves were in town to take part in a “Jimmy Fund” game (The “Jimmy Fund” was started in 1948 to help children with cancer). My friends and I wanted to see all our favorite Braves’ players: Warren Spahn, Johnny Logan, Sibby Sisti, Eddie Matthews, and a host of others. I recall it was a sunny, yet cool day.

The three of us, per usual, had arrived at the ballpark early. Anytime we went to Fenway we made it a point of getting there early enough to take in both fielding and batting practice. My friends and I bought seats in the bleachers (in the early 50s, bleacher seats were less than one dollar). Unlike today’s bleacher seats, it was open seating: first-come, first-served. As we were usually among the first arrivals, we could count on sitting just about anywhere we wanted. Our favorite spot was near “the bottom” of the bleachers, right behind the Red Sox bullpen.

As I recall, during batting practice, both Braves and Red Sox batters had hit several balls into the bleachers. Whenever a ball landed in the bleachers, there was this mad scramble to corral the baseball. It was similar to seeing a bunch of basketball players diving headlong on the floor for a loose ball. The person who finally emerged with the baseball might have gotten a souvenir, but they likely had a bruise or two to show for it. I remember that on that April day both my friends, Tony and Barry, each got a baseball. I thought to myself, “Now, it’s my turn.”

Yet as batting practice was coming to an end, I was lamenting the fact that I was coming up empty. I recall at the time that I was standing about four or five rows up from the lowest level of the bleachers. I remember that I was simply looking around the ballpark (similar to: “counting the house”) when suddenly --- out of nowhere — I was struck by a baseball! At that very moment, I remember two things: First, I recall that my friend Dave was standing at the bottom of the bleachers right next to the bullpen. The ball that had struck me in the stomach had bounded down the stairs and right into Tony’s hands. The second thing I remember was the concerned look on the faces of two Braves’ players (the two were standing in the outfield in the vicinity of where the ball had been thrown). Apparently they were lobbing balls from the outfield into the bullpen. However, whomever had thrown the baseball had overshot his mark.

Well, the thrown ball had struck me right in the belly button. I was startled, but I didn’t feel any pain. I didn’t need medical attention. The only thing I was thankful for was that the ball hadn’t struck me a few inches lower. Besides my good fortune, I had another thing working for me: My Mother. When I was young, my mom would always overdress me (today, they call it “layering”). I remember that day at Fenway was no exception. I had on four layers of clothing: an undershirt, a shirt, a woolen sweater and a winter coat. I probably looked like the junior version of the "Abominable Snowman".

Seconds later, the incident was over. I remember that the game was just about to get started. I also recall that my friend Tony was gloating over getting his second souvenir baseball. His ear-to-ear grin reminded me of Disney’s version of the Cheshire Cat (“Chessy Cat”) in “Alice and Wonderland.” For my part, all I had to show for being hit by the baseball was the feeling of frustration. I kept thinking, “Why hadn’t I been more alert?” I also recall that for the next few minutes Tony was razzing me about my misfortune. I remember him chuckling and then saying, “I get a baseball and Walter gets it right in the Labonza!”

oughtoh
01-10-2018, 11:21 PM
I remember being a young kid and my dad use to drive a bus to the Cleveland Indian games. I got to go with him one night and we sat down the right field line all by ourselves. Vic Powers, first baseman for the Indians at that time, hit a foul line drive into the section next to us. My dad ran and got the ball for me. Still have that ball today and all the memories that go with it.

Teach
01-11-2018, 09:11 AM
I vividly remember Vic Power when he was with the Athletics. I have never, to this day, seen a fancier-fielding first-baseman. Poetry. The way he shifted his feet around the bag. It was pure artistry. I can still picture him, now. He could hit, too. I remember when stole home twice against the Tigers.

ElKabong
01-12-2018, 03:01 AM
The baseball hit me in the stomach. Yet I felt no pain. But more importantly – no baseball. The last thing I remember is the ball bounding down the bleacher steps.



As I recall, during batting practice, both Braves and Red Sox batters had hit several balls into the bleachers. Whenever a ball landed in the bleachers, there was this mad scramble to corral the baseball. It was similar to seeing a bunch of basketball players diving headlong on the floor for a loose ball. The person who finally emerged with the baseball might have gotten a souvenir, but they likely had a bruise or two to show for it. I remember that on that April day both my friends, Tony and Barry, each got a baseball. I thought to myself, “Now, it’s my turn.”

!”

Man what memories. Arlington stadium 1972. Rangers were horrible in their first year here but eight of us HS sophomores would pile into a Corvair to go to Arlington for BP for every game...The fight for BP home runs were as you described... Piranhas jumping on a shrimp is what it looked like....kids fighting over a baseball

Most memorable was, Frank Howard was on that team, the only big name on the active roster (well past his prime). As teenagers we'd heckle visitors during BP, but wouldn't badger Rangers. Big Frank walks near the warning track, we said "hey Hondo, hit a couple of homers today". He looks at us and said "hi men, how's it going"?

Shocker #1 he noticed us
Shocker #2 he called us kids MEN

We were on cloud nine. Men, dammit. MEN... Then he tosses a ball up to us. The fight was on. it took three full minutes for the winner of our bunch to secure the ball. I'm sure big Frank got a chuckle out of that one.

But those early years of ranger baseball in that minor league stadium (that I really digged) were great memories. Arrive two hours early for BP and never leave until the final out.

Btw, admission was one dollar for sixteen and under the first season. I believe the next yr it went up to two dollars for gen admission.

lamboguy
01-12-2018, 07:49 AM
at one time Holy Cross had a top-notch men's basketball program. they had a coach that was Mr. Clean's brother, i think his name was O'Brien. his team was playing Duquesne and back in those day's baseball players had to work second jobs. the father of now Cleveland Indian manager Terry Francona played for the Indians and he was a home run slugger, but his weakness was he couldn't hit a curveball. in the offseason, he was a basketball referee.

Francona was refereeing that game Holy Cross vs. Duquesne. there was a controversial play where Francona called goaltending. O'Brien got off the bench and yelled at the referee. he then got tossed from the game. after the game, everyone thought that O'Brien broke down and swore at the referee. when they asked him what he said to Francona, he said: "no wonder you could never hit a curve ball"!

reckless
01-12-2018, 10:43 AM
at one time Holy Cross had a top-notch men's basketball program. they had a coach that was Mr. Clean's brother, i think his name was O'Brien. his team was playing Duquesne and back in those day's baseball players had to work second jobs. the father of now Cleveland Indian manager Terry Francona played for the Indians and he was a home run slugger, but his weakness was he couldn't hit a curveball. in the offseason, he was a basketball referee.

Francona was refereeing that game Holy Cross vs. Duquesne. there was a controversial play where Francona called goaltending. O'Brien got off the bench and yelled at the referee. he then got tossed from the game. after the game, everyone thought that O'Brien broke down and swore at the referee. when they asked him what he said to Francona, he said: "no wonder you could never hit a curve ball"!

I believe it was George Blaney who was coaching the Crusaders at the time. He later was the head coach at Seton Hall and was an assistant coach under Jim Calhoun at UConn.

lamboguy
01-12-2018, 11:15 AM
I believe it was George Blaney who was coaching the Crusaders at the time. He later was the head coach at Seton Hall and was an assistant coach under Jim Calhoun at UConn.
his name was Jack Donahue, it was the year the Pittsburgh Civic Center was built, something like 1965.

barahona44
01-12-2018, 12:04 PM
his name was Jack Donahue, it was the year the Pittsburgh Civic Center was built, something like 1965.

That was the same Jack Donohue ,IIRC,who was Kareem Abdul Jabbar's (when he was Lew Alcindor) high school coach.

lamboguy
01-12-2018, 12:14 PM
That was the same Jack Donohue ,IIRC,who was Kareem Abdul Jabbar's (when he was Lew Alcindor) high school coach.i think it was, it was a great story