Root for the Home Team!

Little League Summers -
Little League Summers –

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

“There are places I remember

All my life, though some have changed…”

– John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Late yesterday afternoon a knock on the front door proved to be my brother.  Frankie had come to town unexpectedly, and he swung by to visit. Since I had been holed up the entire day trying to work out a plot line in a novel I’m writing, and let me just say that inspiration appeared to be moving at a glacial pace, I was more than delighted to sit down and converse with him.

In the course of our conversation he expressed bewilderment over the absence of the Northside Little League park.  I quickly shuffled through my memory and explained that the NLL park had been leveled several years ago.  But what had happened to the NLL?, he wondered. Rewinding my brain box, I informed him that I thought it had merged with another of our hometown’s Little League teams.

Which one?, was his next question.  Southside? Eastside? I honestly could not remember what I read about it. Frank was visibly shaken by the revelation that the Northside Little League baseball diamond, its bleachers, and its eponymous concession stand were now gone with the wind.

We both recalled how many a summer was spent at that ballpark, with Frank as the erstwhile Northside Little Leaguer and me with our mother cheering him on from the stands.  In fact, after Frank left for his long drive home yesterday, I thought about in the heat of all those summers, he sweated it out for baseball practice with some fine coaches and with some who should have been banned from reproducing at all.  In spite of lousy coaches, and in step with inspirational coaches, my brother toughed it out because he loved the game.  Baseball cards inside big sticks of bubblegum he kept neatly organized in his room.  Pennants from baseball teams like the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs were dear to him too.  Signed bats and baseballs were reverentially displayed in Frank’s room. It was like a mini-baseball Hall of Fame.  Like the character of Crash Davis in the film “Bull Durham”, my brother loved and cherished the game, played at the Cathedral of Baseball in Tiger Stadium and at the old Wrigley Field.

I looked at Frank the man yesterday, and when he waxed fondly of the Northside Little League, what I saw was Frank the boy, my little brother, who lived for baseball.  Suddenly neither of us seemed to have changed as he lamented the passing of his old Little League stomping ground.  I remarked that it is sometimes difficult to come home again and try to absorb the changes that have occurred. I sensed that the demise of the Northside Little League was not a change that would sit well easily with him.

In the greater scheme of city landscapes, we both know that even our hometown must be acclimated itself to the needs and demands of the times.  This sort of concept is easier, however, to acquiesce to when it does not involve the dissolution of our childhood places, those locales we simply assume will always be there where we want them to remain.  At least baseball season starts up soon, happily for my brother. But not at the Northside Little League park.

Ciao for now.