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Athleticism fades, memories linger Richard Peña | Sat, Jul 06 2013 12:00 PM

One of my favorite comic page offerings is “Baby Blues” featuring a married couple with three young children.  Their antics and tribulations follow the pattern for most young couples raising a family and trying to remain on top of kid things, so to speak. They, therefore, attend most of the kid’s activities and try to be as closely associated with the event as does the child.

The other day the boy of the family, Hammie, was playing baseball. The parents went to the field but found out it was their day to man the concession stand.  The father is busily preparing hotdogs for his customer when he hears a loud cheer.  A customer approaches him for a dog and says that some kid just hit an inside the park home run.  His name was Hammie.

The father is, of course, devastated.  His son has hit an inside the park homer and he has missed it.  Could this be the first of a long string of athletic heroic feats? Or could it be the first and last highlight? It makes little difference. He missed seeing it.

I believe that this scenario could be repeated in the majority of households having young children and interested parents.  I further believe that most parents of children of any age rue the one they missed or recall their own feat that their own parent missed at a time so long ago.

I recall, not vividly but vaguely, a game I once was in when I was in high school. It was against our cross town rivals who played baseball on a football field. Home plate was at one end of the field and the left field wall was more than 100 yards away.  I was at bat and I hit one right on the screws so to speak. The coach wrote it up like a newspaper story and pinned it up on a bulletin board at school.  In it he referred to me as a “heavy hitter” and reported that it was a triple that nearly cleared the left field wall.

I have a copy of that report, a bit timeworn and weary, but still readable.  Although no parent saw the feat many classmates read it and said “nice going” or words to that affect. I, probably, got more base hits in my growing-up years but none, to my recollection, that “nearly cleared the left field wall.”

Like most persons in their growing up years I reached my athletic prowess at a reasonably early date and gave up trying to be a world class athlete.  I had reached my zenith with the shot that nearly cleared the left field wall and it was time for my efforts to go in different directions.  One of these came with the concentration on my kids that came about a little later in my life.

Growing up in Chula Vista, or any part of the South Bay, for that matter, in the 1960s and 1970s was a magical time. There were myriads of opportunities open for the youngsters of that period starting with the schools and the many after school programs. Both Zula and I were active with the children aiding them as much as possible and being their chief fan in individual or team activities.  Much of this involved our role as chauffeurs to one activity or another.  Or working at the concession stand had there been one.

In later years we became active in junior golf.  Son David had developed into a better than average player. When he reached his peak years I do believe he could have been a scratch golfer.

As an adult player he was disciplined and played the game the way it should be played. I really believe he could have hit it over the left field fence. Or an inside the park homerun.

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