The heat of summer and the baseball in Todd Field [commentary]

Well, we are officially in the season of summer and if the calendar doesn't tell you so, step outside.

The thermometer is reaching into the low 90s and humidity percentage is higher than that. That combination results in hot and sticky conditions and the chance of thunderstorms. Some damaging.


It's a bit harder now to recall those days some 35 or so years ago. We had these same conditions then and we dealt with them.

Without a doubt, my brother and I and whichever friends we could muster, were out in Todd Field playing baseball or some variation of the game as many times as we could. It could have been real baseball, except that right field was closed to right handers and left field to lefties, if our numbers weren't right. Other times we would pitch to the left handers from third base so center field was right field. It was easier to move the pitcher a few feet than the outfielders several feet.


When numbers were truly limited we were forced to play home run derby. We had rules for all of the potentials. Obviously a home run was over the fence, while a triple probably had to hit the fence in the air and a double had to tingle the chain link on a bounce, or maybe two.

Any ball that was grounded was an out if it didn't make it out of the dirt or was fielded cleanly by the pitcher. We didn't make to many errors. Seriously.

When numbers were really limited, like three of us, we had to resort to the game of 500. Remember that?

I really don't remember the values put on the hit balls, but the object was to total 500. A dropped ball or a grounder through the legs resulted in a loss of points. The winner got to hit the next round of balls and on we went.

The game I liked the best, what we called fastpitch tennis ball, is probably the reason I choose not to throw too many balls overhand anymore. I'm not bragging here, but I was Nolan Ryan, Jim Palmer and Wilbur Wood all rolled into one. I had a killer fastball, a variety of curve balls and a knuckle ball that danced. I even had a screw ball. My brother, Greg, and longtime friend, Toby, can confirm that.

So, hot and sticky, we played on. There were definitely days that the only reason we stopped was because it got dark. We were up the next day though, and back in the dew covered field.

Was there a setback, besides the hot and sticky issue? Yes, poison ivy. Add that to the hot and sticky issue and you have a recipe for disaster. Trust me, I know too much about that and Greg can confirm that, too.

So, do what you have to, to beat the heat and humidity. We did and I wish we could do it again.