Thankful For A Vision of The Past

by on January 29, 2012

One of our guiding principals here at Baseballisms is the fact that we live in a digital age that provides us with tools to preserve our history in the making.  The game of baseball is built upon continuity (mostly, but that’s another story) and legacies at all levels.  How many of you remember the name of the kid who was the all-star flamethrower in your Little League? And how many of you cherish the memory of getting that big hit off of him?  If you grew up prior to our current digital age, what you have are memories, there is only a slim chance of a recorded history of your baseball career.

That is no longer the case. Kids of today’s era might as well have highlight reels on YouTube that they can re-live forever.  This post is born out of  jealousy, but also as a warning to never take this capability for granted.  The 1’s and 0’s preserved on a drive somewhere will increase in personal value over time. They must be preserved and nurtured through the years and the payoff will come when those special moments can be shared with others.  Do not get fooled by the cheap medium, cheap storage and plethora of content … the value to you is actually immeasurable.

So here you go, my entire baseball playing career boiled down to a 37 second video captured on an 8 mm camera that my Dad owned.  It was taken at the 1975 Little League All-Star Game played at the “Green Fence Field” in Lexington Massachusetts. My love of lineup introductions during the postseason was born in this moment, when we got to wear the ceremonial gold and blue hats with an L adorned by two stars, while we stood along the third base line for introductions.

I was a catcher for a team called Toronto and loved playing the position (except for getting pinged by the occasional foul tip – man I feel for those guys). You can see me handle three pitches at the beginning of the video. As is pretty typical for playing at that age, one of my best skills was an ability to get in the way of balls that didn’t exactly find the strike zone. I laugh when I think about how hard I worked at breaking in my catcher’s mitt. It was more likely to deflect than to softly cradle the incoming pitch.  I sure wish I had that catcher’s mitt today.

The rest of the video is dedicated to the one at-bat that I had before giving way to another catcher from another team.  Where that hitch in my swing came from I’ll never know, and is not indicative of how I remember the thousands of other moments at the plate.  The end result is consistent however. I guess I would have been considered a high OBP guy if they thought of things like that back then. I hit a lot of balls up the middle and took alot of walks. No power.

It is kind of funny how memories work though.  I can instantly call to mind numerous plays on the field .. scrambling to catch a low pop foul, moving the target around on batters during Jr. High tryouts that I believe won me the spot on the roster, throwing a runner out at second on the Bowman School field … but I don’t remember this All Star Game from the perspective of the moment.  I have the memories that this video represents, but not the physical and emotional aspects like those other memories possess.

In a sense, I hope that today’s always on camera kids don’t end up with diminished memories simply because they have handy digital recall. That would be sort of a shame.

How about you?  Do you have any ancient video that you can share with us?  Drop us a link and tell us about it.

  • Bill Miller

    You know who had that same hitch in his swing?  Del Unser, former CF for Mets and Phillies.  One of my favorite players as a kid back in ’75.
    Wish I had some video, or even pics, of my sandlot days.  Good times.  Thanks for sharing the video and memories.

  • joemagennis

    Bill, I remember that he was one of your favorites. Whenever I go through the Cards posting I think of you when I see him!  I just wish instead of a hitch, we had a video of a gapper and pulling in for a standup double .. oh well. 

    Tick tock, spring is in the air…. 

  • Perry

    What a beautiful post, Joe, You are so right: sometimes memory changes the reality of what happened long ago, but renders it no less powerful or meaningful for its alterati0n. It’s what we take away and gain from our memories that really matters anyway, not the memories themselves. From now on, in my mind, you will always be top catcher on your team! Because that’s what you really are :-)

  • joemagennis

    Thanks Perry ..  I constantly ponder how my girls lives will be changed by the persistent memory collection on social networks.  Happy Opening Day!

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