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Column: A rush of nostalgic summer baseball memories

Column: A rush of nostalgic summer baseball memories


By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


Many have memories that can transport them back to the baseball or softball diamond.

Each spring, it is easy for those memories to come rushing back with a wave of nostalgia.

The smell of the cut crass.

The gritty feel of the dirt.

The popping sound of the ball hitting the glove.

The pinging sound of the bat making solid contact on the ball.

The cowbells, the umpire’s authoritative calls.

The dirt-filled cleats and washer-ready uniforms.

We all remember it, because we all played or coached.

We all watched, supported and cheered.

For some, the cycle of life has allowed you to check the box next to multiple categories: Player, coach, parent, grandparent.

No matter where you fit, baseball and softball fit into summer. In many ways, they are what summer is all about. They fit into summer just as later bedtimes do. Or endless days without school. Hours of swimming in the pool. Nights filled with flashlight tag. Jars filled with fireflies.

Trips for ice cream. Dinners on the deck. Bike rides around the block — or further. Backyards filled with friends playing games that began with rules and ended without rules. Games that only took a break for popsicles, then got right back at it.

It is what summer is all about.

Some of that magic fades as we get older because our jobs don’t take those same summer breaks.


We can remember what it was like, though.

I remember playing with the intent to win, but with a level of innocence because me and my friends were still learning the game and playing because it was fun and we were together.

Baseball and softball is nothing more than a group of friends on a sandlot. Kids stepping into the batter’s box trying to emulate the batting stance of their favorite big-league heroes, fielding grounders on the same fields that their fathers and grandfathers once spent hours of their childhood on.

I remember playing catch with all of my friends. I remember playing catch with my dad.

I remember helping my dad, who was our coach, line the fields before the game. We always showed up early. He built himself a perfectly engineered wooden crate that fit the bases and all his tools just right. Today, we have Amazon for all our needs. Then, my dad just made what he needed. I remember holding the tape measure at the point of home plate while my dad placed first base, second base and third base.

I remember taking a full infield warmup. If you put together a clean infield warmup, you knew you sent a message to the opposing team that you were ready to go. The flip side to that was that when you watched a team zing it around for a clean infield warmup, you felt that same message.

I remember hitting the ball all across my backyard, replaying each hit like I was the 1990 Cincinnati Reds or the 1995 Cleveland Indians lineup.

I remember making sure we showed up to the field ready to fill the back pocket of our pants with sunflower seeds. I remember promising my mom that I wouldn’t eat the sunflower seeds at any point when I had the chance to be running.

I remember so many teammates. Bobby Terry, Ian O’Neill, Ronnie Smith, Bobby Sutkowy, CJ Meagher, Stevie Bresnai, Maurice Starks, Jason Stewart, Danny Rufener, Brian Fleeman, Henry Head, Jeff Tyler, Ryan Knapp, Shaun McCoy, Jason Urchek, Joey Streem, Randy Varga, Joe Orr, Josh Brantner, and more.

I remember all of the coaches. Coach O’Neill, Coach Terry, Coach McCoy, Coach Urchek, Coach Streem, Coach Kazaglis, Coach Burrell. And, of course, dad.

I remember wins celebrated by ice cream in miniature MLB helmets. Somewhere, I have a stack of those helmets.

I remember the excitement of seeing my name, and the names of my friends, in the newspaper’s daily Hot Stove Scoreboard.

I remember a lot more, too, and I am sure you do, too.

When you are at a ballfield this summer, remember that those kids are creating their own list of memories that will help shape their childhood summers.

Just like summer baseball and softball did for us.

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