Coming out of the library a few hours ago, I noticed a girls' softball game in progress down at Harmon Field. I wandered down there and noticed that for the first time since I've been back in town, I could actually get into Harmon Field. I watched a bit of the game, and then, with the lady Pirates still locked in a 1-1 tie with Ada, I wandered over to where the field used to be that I had played baseball on for 7 years as a kid. It is no longer a ball field, rather, the girls' softball field has been built on what used to be our right field. (The boys baseball field is now out at Village Park.)
I was surprised to see how close Riley Creek was to the area which used to be our field. I never explored this branch of the creek as a kid, as it was in another part of town from where I lived. I would walk there to play baseball, then back home.
My mind wandered back to that wonderful day in my last game as a Senior in high school, when I got hold of a pitch and hit it over the right fielder's head for a home run. I wish I had an image of where the ball landed, but I could only imagine where that might have been, probably somewhere close to where the girls' softball third base is now, or perhaps the shortstop position. I was running as hard as I could, as one is supposed to do in that situation, and not watching the ball. The third base coach waved me around to home, and I got the home run standing up, with no play at the plate. The coach (who I'd had a recent run-in with) and all the players came off the bench and down the line toward home plate to congratulate me, and how often in life do we ever get this kind of experience?
Later my friend and teammate, first baseman Jim Matter, made a comment about the right-fielder misreading the ball and starting in at first. This wouldn't be the least bit surprising, since the weakest player tended to be put in right field in those days. (Indeed, I remember playing an inning in right field my Sophomore year, when the coach was trying to get me some playing time near the end of a game. The rest of my career was, thankfully, spent in the infield, where the real action is.)
Poetic license (briefly) tempted me to write that this was the high point of my life, and it has been downhill ever since. However, this would be absurd in light of the fact that I have been blessed with three wonderful children, and their births certainly outrank any more mundane achievements or experiences in life. Nevertheless, the home run still sticks in the memory.
Dick Oehrle R.I.P.
49 minutes ago