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Saved by a pastime

I have never really played America's favorite pastime, but I owe my sanity to it. It's not news to readers of this column that my two sons love to play baseball. Through the years, I have sat at games in all types of weather - freezing cold, pouring rain, beautiful sunshine and miserably hot humidity. Since we live in Georgia, I don't have to tell you which description the majority of my bleacher-seatings has fallen under.

As far as this column is concerned, I thought I'd exhausted this subject. But I have made a new discovery. For some reason, which I really haven't explored, the oldest is between seasons while the other is playing every other weekend. What I thought would be a welcome vacation from practice and games has become too much time at home.

Logic tells a mom this is the perfect time for them to catch up on important things like sleep, finding the floor in their closet (I know it has one - something has to be holding up that mountain of mismatched socks, shoes and discarded jerseys and caps), and writing thank you notes for Christmas and birthday gifts. I realize I'm dreaming. In reality, I have received more phone calls from the boys wanting me to settle an argument than any cell phone company could create a plan for. The constant ringing creates thoughts of picking up a bat and smashing that phone. Or maybe hiring an umpire to yell in a deep, authoritative voice, "You're outta here!"

But I take comfort in knowing I'm not the first to owe my sanity to the great American sport. During World War II, the United States moved all Japanese-Americans out of their homes and forced them to live in barracks in internment camps. (This makes me wonder why the same government cannot round up all illegal immigrants and move them outside our borders, but that's another topic for another day.) There is a story about one camp in Indiana where the citizens found themselves with nothing but time on their hands. The mixture of boredom, depression and living in crowded groups started to take its toll. So, they started their own baseball league, made their own sandlot between the guarded watchtowers, and played games and tournaments amongst themselves. They even sewed uniforms, using striped mattress covers for material. The story is told in the book, Baseball Saved Us. It is written by Ken Mochizuki, one of the Japanese-Americans who lived in the camp.

It's a great book. In fact, I think I'll add reading it to my sons' to-do list. But first we've got to find it. It's somewhere in that closet.



Web posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007













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