I was a pretty good baseball player. I led the Pony league in batting average for two of the three years I played. Hit some good home runs although if my memory is correct, Tom Brewster, Junior as we knew him then, had more home runs(we were both lefties, and he could pull the ball into the tennis courts better than me. Mine were mostly to center field and had to be “run out” since there were no fences. Several of mine ended up in the Elementary School yard though) Thing is, as good as we were, we didn’t get any trophies. They didn’t give them out back then just for participation. You had to win the league, or the All stars, so….no baseball trophies on my shelf. I didn’t have anything from those wonderful days…at least I didn’t think I did.
I had been cleaning up in my folks house last year before we sold it. I thought I had everything and was making a last sweep of the place. I looked back in the far corner of the closet in the “dark room” and saw the outline of a ball bat. I retrieved it and was taken aback. It was my #34 Orlando Cepeda bat! A bat I had used in many games to hit those low screaming line drives down the first base line. The bat I used to hit a scorching line drive to center field that rolled all the way to that old black pipe water fountain at the Grammar school. I took it outside and swung it for 10 minutes, feeling the balance, and heft of that old bat.
I hadn’t known Dad had saved it. Maybe it was his weapon of last resort for intruders. But, it hadn’t been under the bed…it had been in the corner of the closet. Dad had carried that bat through three moves and had kept it. I wandered back in my mind, remembering how he had been at all my games cheering me on, just as he had later attended all my brother’s football games. Could it be that he had actually been that proud of his crazy acting lefty son? Maybe so, I thought as I took my trophy out and laid it in the seat of my car.