Some of my fondest memories as a child were spent playing, studying, and watching sports. My two greatest loves were football and baseball; but as a child there was just something magical about baseball. I would spend hours either playing or learning about how to play these two sports. I was really into collecting sports cards not only for the pictures, but for the stats on the back of the card. I would memorize the information on the back of these cards. I knew players stats like I knew my phone number. I was amazed at how my brain remembered this information so vividly; yet I could hardly remember anything I learned from school. I had to be taught these sports on my own because my father was never really around and my step-father would rarely give me the time of day. As a child I would watch every game on television I could; I would study batters baseball stances, fielding techniques and the pitchers delivery. I remember playing sick just so I could watch the Cubs play their day games on WGN. I think because there was no one teaching me the game I learned from watching it.

My fondest of fondest memories come from when my dad actually took the time to take me to the baseball fields. I would get so excited and counted down the hours and minutes before we could go out and play. I would carefully pick out various different player baseball cards of players I knew the most about. I wanted to make sure I knew everything about these players so I didn’t waste any precious time trying to remember their mannerisms, and I also enjoyed this time to look smart in front of my dad. Before my dad would pitch to me I would grab a specific card and tell my dad that this is who I was along with some stats about the player. I would make sure I had the stance just right to simulate this player. My favorite was Kirby Puckett with his dramatic leg lift, or Julio Franco with his goofy stance. The one thing I remember my dad saying to me was “why don’t you just be Tim?” I remember thinking he was crazy; why I would want to be Tim when I could be Roy Smalley, Vince Coleman, Tony Gwynn, or Jose Canseco.

When my dad was not around I remember going in the backyard with a pocket full of cards and play homerun derby until the sun set. I would throw the ball high up in the air and try to smash it over the fence. Just writing about this brings such splendid memories to my mind. I loved baseball, and like millions of young children I dreamed of making it to the big leagues one day. I eventually ended up giving up baseball when I got hit in the face while I was pitching. Luckily the line drive was not hit to hard. I only suffered a black eye, and bloody nose but the ripple affect from that day is still with me. I never played baseball competitively after that because I was consumed with fear of being hit with the ball. Over time I stopped following the game like I did as a child. I am now a die hard football fanatic.

I still hold tightly to the memory of pretending to be Puckett while my father pitched to me. I pine over the nights where Wade Boggs would win the homerun derby, and I loved the days of playing sick to watch the Cubs. I miss what baseball meant to me as a child. It was a sport with so much dreams and possibilities. I have tried to follow the game today, but there are so many players who I have no idea who they are let alone memorized their mannerisms or stats. I follow the Twins, but my interests don’t go far beyond that. These memories come back anytime I play with or watch my son pretend to play baseball. To see his face light up anytime he is pretending to hit a homerun, or catch the wining touchdown. I smile and the fond memories as a child return.

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Comments
  1. Johanna says:

    What a nice, well written post.

  2. Since I’m a lot older than you are, my baseball heroes were Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and Brooks Robinson. Like you, I was an avid baseball card collector, amassing over 18,000 cards before I was through.

    Also like you, I was scared of the ball. I have slow reflexes and I was consistently being hit in the batter’s box in youth baseball because I was too slow to get out of the way of errant pitches. Since I couldn’t hit a lick, it was the only way I ever made it to base!!

    I was a superb fielder, though. However, not unlike you, I had an experience in which I misjudged a fly ball and it bounced off the top of the webbing of my mitt and hit right between the eyes. Nearly knocked me out. After that incident in my mid-teens, I wasn’t eager to play baseball anymore. ;P

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Rambling,

      Do you still have all those cards? I had a shit load of sports cards and I was in a mania and sold all them for $100 just to get an old school Nintendo. I was like 27 when I did it. This was 15 years of collecting them if I were to have appraised them the collection would have been thousands of dollars. Just thinking about it makes me so sick

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