The air is usually hot and muggy, or just plain hot. The gravel road into the park is dusty, with freshly spread gravel crunching under the tires. Chain link fences are stretched out in circular patterns, advertisements from local merchants drape on them like tablecloths on a clothesline.
The smell of freshly cut grass is unmistakable. The sand has been smoothed nicely on the infields, unprofessional workers making a few quick touch ups, the base lines are marked noticeably, sometimes with slightly crooked lime lines.
Cars, trucks, mostly SUVs of all makes, colors, shapes and sizes fill every parking spot. About the only thing they have in common is their cargo. They are loaded with kids, uniforms, equipment, coolers, and diaper bags and such. The concession stand is open, manned by sweet naive volunteers-- no offense. Volunteers are made up of good hearted teachers, parents, grandparents; almost any warm body will do.
Oh, and we can’t forget the out side “johns”, what would we do with out them!
I walk up and Mrs. Ethel Brown from church takes my order. Two bottles of water, two hot dogs and two tortilla chips with extra cheese, please. In front of me I noticed a plastic jar with a photo of little Tommy Jones who is in need of a cancer operation, with a hand written note that read; “Donations Please.”
Making my way to a choice spot on a dirty, hard, metal bleacher, my body is resistant due to the many times that sitting here had made my sacroiliac ache!
In a few minutes you will hear the familiar sounds of grand parents shouting for grand kids, parents cheering for their child, coaching the coaches, and grumbling with the umpire. There are smaller kids scattered about, playing catch, kick ball, tag, or some other game to remove their boredom and some already fussing over the last bite of a candy bar or the last drink of soda. Fans pointing out their favorites while catching up on the latest gossip, or community news-- I should say.
As we take a look around you notice the arms and legs of various people, white from their winter’s hibernation. You admire those trusty volunteer coaches, some with 40 inch pot bellies hanging over a 32 inch waist of a pair of Wrangler blue jeans. Others you see with long skinny legs, resembling a jockey riding a chicken. Teams are so cute in their new uniforms, the players and coaches working out the last few glitches of their World Series style hand signals. There is the last minute setting of the score board.
The teams are called in from the dug outs. As they line up and take their hats off: some will pray, some say allegiance, some quote the softball pledge. A few final pitches, swings of the bat, scratching, patting, rubbing, chewing of gum…
The umpire motions to his watch and the teams take their positions. Hearts are racing!
Everyone is on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the first pitch…the first hit!
The ump yells “Play ball!”
The batter takes his position at the plate, positioning himself just right. You can hear the dragging of the foot across the sand.
A gentle breeze is gracing the hot fans and you can taste the dust in the air. From several locations on the field you can hear the slapping of hand against leather.
The pitch is thrown. The sound of the ball hitting the bat is unmistakable…as the crowd goes wild!
Yes, it’s That Time Again!
Written by Loyd Taylor