Just got back from putting the flag out. My relentlessly gentrified neighborhood is home to many who have benefited greatly from the many blessings of American life, and therefore from the sacrifices so many have made in the name of that life. Yet my flag is the only one out in my block or in the blocks to my north and south. Sad.
Memorial weekend means remembering those who gave all. In the backend of the last century it also meant baseball for me. Not watching it on the tube, as I will likely do later today, but playing it. My amateur team (The Tampa White Sox of the Men’s Adult Baseball League of Tampa Bay — over 40 division) always participated in a tournament in Pinellas County with teams from across the state over Memorial weekend.
Yesterday it was a crisp, spring-like 91 in Tampa. More of the same forecast for today. But at least the humidity isn’t as bad as it will be later. I remember a couple of fiercely hot and humid Memorial weekends. The tournaments I played in were single elimination. So if your team won the first game of the day your “reward” was to have to play another one. Playing two in one day (with the prospect of another game on Sunday if you won both of Saturday’s) would have been tough enough for players all in their forties and fifties (and few of us slaves to conditioning). Add to it the fact that it was 98 degrees on one day that we had to play two (Oh, shut up, Ernie — one is more than enough) and you can see how most of us were baggage when the games were over.
My wife, who can keep her passion for baseball pretty well under control, always accompanied me on these Memorial binges (though she usually skipped the regular Sunday afternoon and Wednesday night games). Her reasonable fear was that after two games in a pizza oven my powers would be so depleted that I might not be able to drive myself home. Or that after knocking back a couple of mugs of baseball’s natural solvent at post-game de-briefing with teammates at Hooters, I wouldn’t be able to get down from the bar stool, even with a comely Hooterette on each arm helping me. (Angels of mercy, those Hooterettes, and I shall always be their friend.)
The up-side to the tournaments was that the games were played on the training fields used by the Mets and the Phillies in St. Petersville and Clearwater. Major league quality fields, manicured and smooth as a baby’s butt. More true hops than at a brewery. Absolute dreams compared to the fields we played our regular season games on. But even the joy of playing on these fields of dreams had faded by the seventh inning of the second game when we had begun to hallucinate. Even I, a truer fan of the Grand Old Game than whom you can hardly find, can get too much baseball in one day.
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