Boyd Tarney stopped by the office about a week ago. He asked, “Do you remember when we won the City Tournament in baseball?”
I paused for awhile, thinking he was putting me on, or maybe this was leading into a joke or a riddle, but he waited patiently while I thought about it.
I have always wanted to win city in something. I’d been close a couple times. I could remember playing for Feasel’s Insurance in the Waynedale Little League. We had gone 19 and 1, to win the league, but there was no tournament that I could remember. Then there were the Elmhurst High School football teams. We had put some wins on the board, but never had a run at being number one. There was the old Lantern team back in the softball days. We had some pretty good teams, but we had never won City. Yes, sports had been a lot of fun during my life, but I had to admit I was never any better than mediocre.
Now, at the age of 61, I was pretty sure that winning a city title in golf or bowling would be a stretch.
“No,” I finally said, “if we had won City in baseball, I would certainly remember it.” After all, winning City in anything had always been an elusive goal. And who could forget a whole summer of baseball. I had loved baseball more than any of the other sports.
Then Boyd pulled out an old Waynedaler newspaper photo. It was faded with age, and someone had written “Summer 1961” across the top. There was Boyd Tarney, right in the middle of the picture. Someone, probably his mother Hattie, had put an “x” on his picture and underlined his name. And just below Boyd, was me, Bob Stark, right in between Dennis Paul and Smitty. I was both shocked and bewildered.
I was just getting ready to go to a meeting, and Boyd was going to pick up his wife, so we didn’t have time to sit and talk but what a surprise, I finally had the city championship I had been looking for. I had had it along; it had just taken me 47 years to find it.
I still didn’t understand how a person could forget a whole summer? I know I am getting on in years and a little bit forgetful, but it is my short-term memory that is fading. My long-term memory has always been great. It was like having a hole in a story with no explanation. It was like reverse de’javu. Instead of being in a place where you think you’ve been before, I was seeing myself in a place that I could not remember being. I examined the picture one more time before leaving…it was real all right, no one could fake something like that.
We went our ways, but when Friday evening rolled around, I met Boyd at Mannie’s Place on Calhoun Street. I wanted to talk about that picture and the missing summer of my youth. After all, could we be living in parallel universes? Could we have slipped through a worm hole and gone back to play one more summer of little league baseball? As inviting as that would be, I knew that there was probably a simple explanation and as we went over each of the names, it started coming back to us.
What we think happened is this.
Before we started playing Little League, we had played a lot of sandlot baseball at the old diamond at Waynedale School. There were park programs at that time, and we would throw together a team every year and play against other parks from around the city. My main focus of attention for the missing summer would have been my Feasles Insurance baseball team and Boyd would have been focusing on his Elmhurst Little League team, Earth Incorporated.
The park league thing was just for fun, and as we remembered back, we realized that we had always had a problem fielding a team, as most of the guys also played on other teams. In fact, we may have changed the team from week to week, utilizing whomever we could find. Anyway the Park league team would have been overshadowed by aour primary teams, leaving us to just remember the dominant or most important teams.
The Park League ball was just for fun, and it is now a refreshing thought to remember back when we played baseball just for the sheer enjoyment of the game. Winning was not near so important as the exhilaration of the actual game… and so it was that they are remembered not as the season of the city championship, but as the season of our youth. It was a summer that did not have a date as a milestone, but was jumbled together with all the other great memories of growing up in Waynedale in the 50s & 60s.
I always wanted to win a city at something, its’ just taken me a while to remember I did.
- FLOWERING PLANTS FOR A BRIGHT SUMMER DAY – Green-Thumb Gardener - July 16, 2021
- ‘SHOP WAYNEDALE’ WINNERS & GAME ANSWERS ANNOUNCED - July 16, 2021
- HOOSIERS: ANOTHER WAY TO SIGN UP AS ORGAN & TISSUE DONORS - July 16, 2021