Fresh Cut Grass, the Buzz of Bees, and Baseball!
It must be getting close to summertime!
I don’t like the hot, humid Florida summers these days as much as I did when I was a kid. Of course, I loved summertime back then because it meant a temporary release from Stalag Luftschool 13 and the care of Sister Mary Himmler of Our Blessed Ladies of the Gestapo.
Another thing that always meant summertime for me was baseball. I remember following my favorite teams; the Baltimore Orioles with legendary players like Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson, and Davey Johnson. Or the Pittsburgh Pirates, with future Hall-of-Famers Willy Stargell and Roberto Clemente. Ah… the memories.
Back then in Tampa, just a few blocks from my house, was a baseball park called Al Lopez Field. It was named for Hall of Fame player Al Lopez, a Tampa native. It was also the home field for the Cincinnati Reds during their Spring Training exhibition schedule. The Reds training facility was just three blocks from my house. It was called Redsland. Currently, that same training facility is used by the NY Yankees.
When I was a wee tot, my dad used to take me to Al Lopez field to watch the pro exhibition games, or more often the Tampa Tarpons (Florida Grapefruit League) games. I think that’s where I really developed my love for live baseball. To this day, I love the smells of the park… the fresh cut grass, the food smells, even the stale beer smell. It all brings back those memories of going to the park with my dad when I was a kid. My older brother took me a few times, too.
Speaking of my older brother, he actually played professional ball for a while with the KC Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cool, huh? He never got a shot in the Big League, but he played well in the minors. I was looking at a site the other day with his stats from back then. They were pretty impressive. I think the reality of family life and the need for a higher paying career ended his baseball playing days.
Here’s a picture of ol’ Al Lopez Field. It was torn down years ago to make room for Raymond James Stadium (Home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). These days I follow the Tampa Bay Rays. I was listening to their opening game on the radio when I first started to write this article. They WON! Rays 4 – Orioles 3.
Baseball season has started. That means the long, hot summer is ahead of us. All things are possible. Take a deep breath. Smell that fresh cut grass. Ahhh…