Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Baseball On My Mind

I've still got baseball on my mind. The team pictured in Monday's blog was not a Little League team. It played in the Greater Akron Baseball Federation. There were softball teams in Cuyahoga Falls but ours was the only one playing baseball. The quality of play was higher than that of Little League, but we enjoyed none of the advantages of that organization. Our home games were on a school playground that received no care other than what we provided. For road games we boarded a city bus that took us to downtown Akron, where we transferred to another going to Goodyear Heights or Firestone Park or wherever the game was to be played. When it was over, we reversed the procedure. No parent ever attended a game. They were for the boys, and that's the way it should be.
Then Little League came to town. Great, I thought. No more buying balls, bats, uniforms and all the other equipment needed by a team. I embraced the idea, signed on as a team manager. Now there would be 120 boys playing baseball rather than 15, but a baseball coming off a bat is a dangerous missile and some of those kids had no business being near a baseball field.
I began having serious doubts the evening the season opened. The grandstand was crowded with parents living vicariously off their kids performances. Most knew little about the game but that didn't keep them from opening their mouths at every opportunity. I could see what was coming so I told the boys on my team that they were finished if a parent ever questioned how much time or what position they were playing. They knew I meant it and over the years only one parent ever phoned with a complaint. I drove to his house and picked up the boy's uniform.
I had retired from the game long before a group of idiots decided every kid should play in every game. Just like it is in the real world. Just like it is in school where you get an A in every subject merely for showing up. It was unfair to the older boys who had worked their way up to being a starter and wanted to win. If you don't play to win, why keep score? And it was unfair to the younger boys who weren't ready yet to be on the field and could blow it for the older kids.
We did it better. Once a week we had a game in the morning without the six 12-year-olds. The older boys joined in teaching the younger ones how to play the game. No 8- or 9-year-old ever had to feel that he had let the team down. Then when a boy grew older and became a starter he appreciated it because he had put in a lot of hard work to earn his job. He was on the field through his own effort, not because mommy or daddy said he should be.
Little League was founded with good intentions. It would be a great organization if one more rule were added: No parents allowed at games.


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