Barry Paschal's May 8 column brought back memories of my own childhood. We, too, were always told to keep the Hillerich and Bradsby trademark up. Everyone "knew" that if you hit the ball on the trademark the bat would break, and bats were scarce -- specially Louisville Sluggers. They've sure been in business a long time: My childhood was in the 1920s and early '30s!
And baseballs! They were hard to come by in those days, and we made them last for a long time after the horsehide came off by wrapping them in friction tape. Those were Depression days! Our school field was a pasture near the school. Flat rocks served as bases. But one had to be careful when sliding into a base because the kids from "the Hollow" grazed their cows there in the evenings and on weekends. What looked like a base might not be one!
The Johnstown (Penn.) Johnnies of the Middle Atlantic League usually played in the "Point" stadium downtown where they had lights for night games. However, they built a park with a wooden grandstand and bleachers out near where we lived and played there on Sunday afternoons. If you turned in a foul ball that went out of the park, you got in free!
And they didn't mind if we kids used the field during the week. City league teams also used it in the evenings. In the fall a high school used it for football practice and a local football team sometimes played there.
We kids also used it for football. Most of us played in tennis shoes left over from summer. However, in one game an opposing player was wearing his coal-miner father's safety shoes with steel-capped toes. When I tackled him I got kicked in the chest and it pained me for some time thereafter. I was afraid to tell my mother, thinking she wouldn't let me play anymore! Some seven or eight years later I fractured my collarbone in a motorcycle accident. The doctor looked at the X-rays and asked me how long it had been since I cracked all those ribs. Ah, the good old days!
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