An All-Star “Cast”
I’m now in countdown mode as a vacation week is on the horizon next week. I am headed to my “go-to” beach destination, Chincoteague & the Assateague Island National Seashore. Nothing against the more commercial beaches like Myrtle & Virginia Beach, but I prefer the pristine, unspoiled nature of AI. I’m looking forward to the usual stops like Steamers, Mr, Whippy’s, and Pony Tails, not to mention a stop for Eastern Shore produce on the way home.
On to this week’s topic: I hope kids who love baseball like I did “back in the day” appreciate the opportunities offered them today. There is Little League, Cal Ripken Baseball, travel teams, Fall Ball, various age-group leagues, and so-on & so-on. In my youth , the progression was what we called “Farm League” (Pee-Wee), then Little League, and then to Senior Little League. Our first two divisions were played at Oatsdale Park in Martinsburg (WV), while the Seniors played at Pikeside Field. The only other rival league was a church youth baseball league which played at Rosemont Field.
It was always a thrill to be named to the LL and Sr. LL All-Star team. In Martinsburg, our All-Teams always seemed to do well and often advanced to the State Tournament, and being chosen as one of the league’s best was a great honor. So it was, in the Summer of 1972, when I was one of 2 “Dodgers” to be chosen to that year’s squad. The 1971 team had won the WV State LL Title, and our group of All-Stars certainly thought a repeat was possible.
That dream ended for me on July 12th, 1972, with the sickening snap of an arm. During All-Star practice that night, after throwing the ball to the catcher from the outfield during a drill, I slipped on the dew-moistened grass of Oatsdale. Trying to brace the fall with my left hand, my arm broke in half just above the wrist. As coaches and players ran to help, I went into shock after looking at the horrible injury. But I do remember asking over and over if I would be able to play. I, of course, would not, and my All-Star season was over.
But maybe not.
My All-Star Coach, Jim Wasson, did something not ordinarily done. Instead of filling the roster spot with an alternate, he kept me on the squad. I would get to wear a uniform, and travel with the team. But it was not a ceremonial position. Coach Wasson actually had a job for me. I would relay signs to our pitchers using certain motions I would make with the cast on my broken arm. That worked like a charm, as we advanced beyond an opening home game and on to the next round in Philippi, WV. We won our first game there, before losing the next (we had a strong suspicion that the opposition figured out our signs). As there was no double-elimination in 1972, our run was over, and there would be no trip to “State.” The cast had run out of magic rubs…
As a footnote, Martinsburg would win Little League state championships ’73 and again in ’74, a great run of 3 titles in 4 years, 1972 being the year we fell short.
One good thing came out of the experience: The LL trip to Philippi would result in my enrollment at Alderson-Broaddus College in 1977, where I got to run the campus radio station. The rest, they say, is history.
That’s it for another “Views From The Booth!” We have a saying here that “vacation is vacation.” So I will be taking a week off from the blog, recharging on the sands of Assateague, before returning to “the booth” in a couple of weeks!
As always, GO HORNETS!