The recently ended Little League World Series, full of oversized boys bashing home runs over pulled-in fences, looked nothing like the game I played.
What I remember most about playing baseball at that age is being scared shitless at the plate. Baseball is hard enough for grown-ups.
But when facing some sidewinding pitcher four years your senior, the fear is real. I always felt I’d won when I returned home without a bruise from a beaning.
Besides, half the fun of Little League was the concession stand.
For a kid with a sweet tooth, it was a cavity store at which you couldn’t wait to shop. Taffy. Snickers and Three Musketeers candy bars. Dubble Bubble bubble gum by the bucket.
And in the dead of summer, nothing beat a snow cone with extra syrup that you could sip out of the bottom of the cup.
The field I played on was destroyed decades ago.
But I still can see the cinder block dugouts, parents parked in lawn chairs behind the backstop, clouds of bugs buzzing atop the light towers. I can taste the windblown dirt. I can hear the “Hey, batter batter” infield chatter rising as the pitcher completes his wind-up.
When it was all over, you slipped your glove through the handlebars, hopped on a bike and rode home, illuminated in the darkness by the headlights of passing cars.