Softball memories

That’s me, as I’m sure you can tell, all swaddled up in my dad’s arms. It’s January, 1948, probably on my trip home from the hospital. (The car, I’m pretty sure, is a mid ’30s Auburn.) He would just have turned 24, a few years after the war and the Corps, well-embarked on what was to be a 40-year career with the Southern New England Telephone Company.

He’s carried this photo in his wallet ever since, and for some reason just felt like handing it over to me a few weeks ago. (It’s in remarkably good shape, considering.)

Some of my fondest memories from a few years later involved going to Dad’s ballgames. He played fast-pitch softball for the telephone company and also in the surprisingly competitive Waterbury Church League. (He always said the church guys were much rougher and competitive than the guys in the industrial league.) I used to abscond with his glove when his team was in to bat, and people would have to find me and chase me down when the time came for him to go back to the field. On the way home after the games, we’d stop for a popsicle.

My mom used to tell a story that must have happened in the early ’50s. My dad’s SNET team had qualified for the state tournament, and he had to go off one Saturday morning to play in it. The idea was that the winning teams would keep playing all day to get to the championship game, then play the finals the same day to top things off. The winners and runners-up would have to play four games. The problem was that mom and dad were supposed to attend some sort of big bash that evening. Mom, who in those days was still home taking care of me, was really looking forward to getting all dressed up and heading out to a swank do. My dad told her not to worry, because they weren’t that good, they’d get knocked off early, and he’d be home in plenty of time.

Mom started looking for him in the late afternoon, but he didn’t show. Supper time. Didn’t show. Time to leave for the party. Didn’t show. Mom, very slow to anger, was past steaming. She’s thinking he had a few with the boys, lost track of the time, had a few more, forgot about the whole thing. She wanted to rip his head off. Finally she hears him clomping down the wooden stairway from the street to our basement apartment, then up onto the little porch. She throws the door open, ready to throttle him, and there he is, filthy, sweaty, utterly exhausted, and grinning like a fool. He looks at her, hands her the state championship trophy, and says, “We won.”

She melted.



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