And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air

by Kelli Steele

The inspiration for our Spring Training Letterpress Baseball Print

Around the time I was ten, we moved to a townhouse in a tightly-packed neighborhood. My brother had started playing little league baseball, and if you took a right out our house and walked down the street a bit, there was the home of an elderly lady who allowed all the neighborhood kids to walk through her front gate, around the sidewalk to the back gate, to get over to the little league fields. So long as you closed the gates behind you. 

Mom worked long hours then, so even when my brother wasn't playing, we could mosey over to the ballfields for a hot concession stand meal, and watch our friends play against our other friends, and there were plenty of adults around making sure we were all on our best behavior. Practically the whole neighborhood was there at some point during a week. Those ballfields helped raise me. 

I was the only granddaughter on either side of my family, and the boys got a larger portion of the genes accounting for agility and athleticism. That just meant I spent my high school and college years going to watch my brother and cousins play all throughout their high school years. Two of the three of them went on to play in college. My dad spent hours mowing the high school outfield so it had a perfectly striped pattern. My grandparents brought their folding chairs and sat by the dugout while my uncle coached. Every game was practically a family reunion. I memorized Casey at the Bat just for fun. 

Somewhere along the line I got busy doing "adult" things and forgot to visit a ballfield. Neither of my kids played, but occasionally I'd go watch a friend's kid at a game. But every spring when the neighborhood ballfield lights come on for those pre-season practices and early season games, I hear the crack of the bat and the swell of the crowd, and I smell the dust and freshly-cut grass, and am hit by a wave of nostalgia - no exaggeration - stronger than I experience almost any other time. It never, ever gets old.   


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