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Little League Memories

Greetings From The Booth!

With the 95th Shenandoah Apple Blossom in the books, we try to shake the inevitable Bloom hangover (figuratively, if not literally) and gather some forward momentum. A quick Shenandoah University update–congrats to Men’s Lacrosse, who earned their first-ever ODAC tournament win earlier this week, and good luck to all the Hornet teams still alive in their respective ODAC tourneys. SU Baseball plays a best 2-of-3 this weekend in an opening round ODAC series. The Hornets sit on 29 wins, and hopefully there are more “W’s” before they are done!

It’s time again for Little League Baseball, and my mind wanders back to my LL days at Oatsdale Park in Martinsburg, WV. Whatever your idea of Heaven is, I truly believe that in Heaven we get to go back and re-live some of our best moments in life, moments that we maybe didn’t savor enough in our youth. My Little League days were filled with many of those moments, and I would go back in a heartbeat if I could. Here are just a few:

Tag Day, when we would dress in our Little League uniforms and stand on Queen Street, asking for donations to the Martinsburg Little League. My first experience in sales.

Opening Day ceremonies, when all the teams would be introduced player by player by PA Announcer Charlie Trayer. The season was an eternity, and it was all ahead of us.

A night when my lowly Dodgers took down the powerful Yankees. Their players included Keith Brooks, who would go on to play professionally in the Giants organization. After the game, the impromptu chants of “We beat the Yanks” echoed through Oatsdale. If we played them 100 times they would  win 99 times, but that was our night.

The feel of a brand new baseball placed in my hand by the umpire as I walked to the mound.

The taste of the concession stand hot dogs. For some reason, those boiled dogs always tasted better after a win.

Somehow spearing a hot one-hopper at first base, and having my coach, Sonny Johnson, say to the rest of the team, “that was a pro play.”

Making the All-Star team.

I would happily re-live some of the not-so-good moments, too, like failing to close out the aforementioned Yankees after an otherwise masterpiece of a pitching performance. Boy, did my Dad give it to me good, after that one.

Or, slipping on a wet outfield at All-Star practice and snapping my arm in two, ending my dreams of playing for that 1972 team. In many ways that was a great memory because I was allowed to stay on the team, relaying signs to our pitchers by rubbing my cast during games. Our All-Star travels would take us to Philippi, where several years later I would return as a student at Alderson-Broaddus College.

There is a classic Twilight Zone episode where a man returns to his hometown, where he meets his boyhood self. The man’s father tells the older version of his son, “you have to go back where you came from, this is his time now.” It’s such a bittersweet moment, as he tries to tell his younger self to savor every ice cream cone, every carousel ride, every skinned knee.

I’m pretty sure I would say something like that to the 10 year-old Randy Woodward.

Good luck to all the Little Leaguers out there, and until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!





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