When I was growing up, many warm days in the spring and summer my older brother Edwin and I would hustle through our evening livestock chores. Baseball beckoned! In the evening light, my brother and I were each a team of one. Though some might say our barnyard field was not ideal for playing baseball, our love of the game sparked our creativity to make it work out just fine. First and second bases were opposite ends of the barn, third base was the lone azalea bush, and home plate was the corn crib, which also served as a backstop for pitches that got by the batter. Everything on each side of the barn was a foul ball. A ball hit onto the barn roof would roll back down and was still in play. We wanted things competitive, so no ghost runners. Hitting the ball over the barn was a home run, but did complicate things, because it was common for our only ball to be lost in the cow yard. Innings were frequently delayed by ball searches.
One hot day in July we had no hay to bale, so we hustled through our chores and got done milking with plenty of time. We felt we could certainly get in several innings before dark. Sure enough, I soon found myself ahead 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth. The previous inning, I had hit a home run over the barn. We were able to quickly find the ball because the cows were standing around it in a cluster. They were taking turns sniffing it, trying to figure out what had crash landed in their yard interrupting their evening grazing. Then, in the fifth, my brother got two quick strikes on me with change ups. And, with the count 2-2, I crouched ready: my brother was bearing down, and I knew a fast ball was coming. As the pitch came in, I got a great read on the ball, and, with a deep swing, hit a towering shot. It sailed high and curved foul, then the wind caught it and carried it further foul towards the house! We were both stunned and stood motionless as it sailed out of sight. All of a sudden we heard the splintering crash of our mom’s beloved front picture window. My mouth gaped, and my stomach instantly turned into knots. My brother was quicker to react, quipping “Game over, We both lose!” and sprinting out of sight into the corn field. Within seconds, my dad came out blaring, “What the Sam Hill is going on here?” and stomped into the barnyard to find me, alone, holding the bat.
I was tasked with boarding up the window before dinner. I’d just gotten started when Edwin wordlessly appeared next to me to help; we completed the task in silence. At supper that night very little was said, although Edwin once broke the silence to ask “Did you find our ball?” Crickets. No answer was given.
We had to buy a new window, and when it arrived, we had to put it in. But baseball endured: we also got a screen to put in front of the window on game nights!
With the start of baseball, get the grill warmed up! Check out our mouth-watering beef at our farm store, The Country Cupboard, or stop by and see us at the Freight House Farmers Market.