Thursday the temperature reached the 70s. That night it dipped to the 20s. Springtime is five weeks away, and I’m thinking baseball.
Your community newspaper, the past few weeks, has been publicizing sign-up for youth T-ball, baseball and softball in Marshall County.
Considering signing up your child, ages 3-16? Do it.
I grew up in rural Marion County, Ala., about 12 miles from the nearest ballpark.
I never played T-ball, don’t think we had it in the 1960s in Hamilton, Ala.
But I did spend a lot of time at home, in the yard, with a bat and a ball and a glove.
One of my favorite pasttimes was tossing the baseball off some concrete steps and fielding it when it ricocheted back to me.
I would also get out in our somewhat large front yard, toss the ball up to myself, hit it, go retrieve it and then do it all over, time and time again.
About age 11 or 12, I think, I really wanted to play youth baseball in the recreation league. A lot of my friends played. And more than anything, I guess, I wanted to spend the summers with them, too.
My dad had died when I was 10. My mom worked and worked hard. She wasn’t sure how I’d always get to practice, but between her and my sisters and my motorcycle, we made it happen. When I had no other transportation, I would drive the backroads to the ballpark on my Honda 70.
I will never forget getting that first uniform – that jersey with pinstripes, a cap, pants and socks. It was great.
My love for baseball was entrenched in me, forever.
Not bragging, but I turned out be a pretty doggone good player. My playing days stretched through high school and then onto the softball diamond in independent and church league play.
But playing baseball taught me much more than the skills of the game – things like teamwork, friendship, confidence, hustle and so on.
Next I started coaching youth baseball while in college and continued that through the years of my children playing baseball and/or softball in various rec leagues where we’ve lived.
I guess about 14 or 15 years ago, I was blessed to be a part of a countywide group that came together with a goal of forming a Marshall County youth league. It was our goal to give every child the opportunity to play Dizzy Dean T-ball, softball or baseball – no matter their talents or skills. We wanted them to reap the benefits of being a part of a team, having fun and maybe learning to love the game along the way.
We were successful, as volunteers, in starting the countywide league. And from the start, I believe, it was a success. The participation was tremendous, and the bonding of everyone, children and parents alike, from the various communities across Marshall County was impressive.
The Marshall County league has hit some ups and downs since its inception, but thank goodness, it continues.
There’s still a big need in Marshall County for top-notch baseball and softball facilities for our youngsters.
But again, it’s not so much about the fields. It’s just about participating and enjoyment.
I had so much fun in my yard. And then I had even more fun at the “real” fields.