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Monday, May 2, 2016

Walking With Jackie the Ripper

Thursday, May 13, 2004

One of the sounds of spring brings back to me all the miles Jack and I have walked around the baseball fields of Mississippi. Our grandson, Patrick, started playing at an early age. I believe he was still in diapers when he got his first base hit, and my husband and I watched many a game during his formative years.

Now I have never been athletically inclined. I was young when this failing was brought to my attention in a forceful way by my brother Clark when he allowed that I was without doubt the most uncoordinated human being ever granted the breath of life.I believe his exact words were, "You've got to be the clumsiest person God ever let live!" And that took a lot out of me.

What happened was Clark, being the oldest boy in the family was the only one of us who had a bicycle. (In later years he said he had worked at the store to pay for it, but I don't know.) Of course I nagged and nagged at him to teach me to ride, and in my ignorance I thought he was being nice when one afternoon he permitted me to climb on his bike, positioned me at the top of a hill in the cow pasture, gave me a hearty push and screamed, "I'm tired of listenin' to you gripe! Ride or wreck! You're on your own!"

I was greatly surprised at this turn of events for having seen other small children being taught to handle a bicycle, somehow I had thought my brother would run along beside me to give support, but such was not the case. My wild ride lasted only a matter of seconds, after which I found myself thrown into a tangled heap, considerably confused and scratched up from my encounter with the barbed wire fence at the bottom of the hill which I had hurtled down.

It was after I pushed the bike up the hill that my brother blasted out the news of my extreme lack of coordination, and he berated me more than a little for getting his bicycle scratched up. My bleeding nose, the only one I have ever had in my life, was ignored and all my cuts and bruises went unnoticed as he ranted and raved.

So with such a background of verbal abuse, it will come as no big news to you that I never became the least bit proficient at sports of any kind, and I was a bit surprised when our daughter, Patti, really enjoyed being on her high school volleyball team. Gene and I enjoyed attending the games. They were exciting, of course, and we screamed and yelled along with the other fans, but nothing took place which foretold in any small way what lay in store for us when we became grandparents and started attending more "professional" sports activities.Down through the years I have been present at many, many baseball games, and I must tell you that, generally speaking, human beings make a drastic change when members of their family, especially small ones, put on a uniform and march out onto the diamond. Gentle, normally soft-spoken, born-again Christian choir members more often than not become violent, shrieking, homicidal maniacs when the referees call their loved ones out, and I am talking here about grandparents, old worn-out folks like me who have to be helped up the steps. And we can't hold a candle to the way mothers and fathers carry on.The advice to the players from the crowd is unbelievable. People scream at the pitcher, "Throw strikes!" as though the poor child is deliberately trying to walk the bases full. "Hit that ball!" is another odd remark. One might think the batter needed to be told that was his purpose at the plate. It boggles the mind.Most of the coaches are unkindly verbal, too, and many appear to have attended the Adolf Hitler School of Charm. I don't see how the kids endure it. Perhaps it prepares them for life in the adult world, but I don't know.Martha Cash Bennett's books, Home By Suppertime and Where Golden Apples Grows are available by calling 870-625-9939.