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  • We were an expansion team. Yep, our tiny town had enough girls who wanted to play we had to add a team - the Jets. Resplendent in green and gold, we gathered for practice in a part of someone's field that had been set aside at some point for recreational use by the city. It was Dixie League softball in rural Mississippi.

    On game night, we sat in the dugout while our parents gathered in the stands. Our younger siblings running around, as much as they could manage, under the watchful eye of all the adults.

    Times were different back then. Parents expected other parents to get on to kids who were misbehaving. And if your parents found out another kid's parents got on to you, well, you were in double trouble! Everyone minded everyone else's business.

    We knew the Chargers were hard to beat. They had an Amazon on their team. She was the biggest girl in Junior High by at least 3 feet and most of that was arms and legs. So she could get to first base in 3 steps and catch a line drive to the shortstop from her position on 1st base without making a single step. She guarded her base like it was Fort Knox, so if you had to run for it, you were nervous. It was like playing "Red Rover, Red Rover" but there was just one person to break through.

    My red Louisville Slugger softball bat was a "Dixie" model. I loved that bat! I loved the sound of a good solid hit off the wood and the feel of that hit that let me know it was good. There were few aluminum bats back then. I'm not sure if we were even allowed to use them in games.

    I don't know how much I trust my memories, but it seems my glove (at some point) had been my dad's baseball glove. I don't remember having any issues with that - it was pretty cool, actually.

    Once a line drive dropped and bounced at the perfect time to hit me square in the jaw. I think it was a ball hit by the Amazon. I just remember how much it hurt and how mad I was that she had hit me in the face!

    My dad was in the Rotary Club and we would host foreign students in the summer for a couple of weeks at a time. Once, there were two or three young men from Latin American countries who were very engrossed in the culture and life of our rural American town. While parents yelled encouragement and direction from the stands, they sat with their Spanish-to-English dictionaries and tried to look up the strange words being shouted. This was in the South. An area of Mississippi where the Delta meets the Hills. The Country. If you go back far enough in the Hills, you might hear banjos. Simply trying to understand the phrases coming out of those Southern mouths dripping with twang and drawl that added extra long vowels in some places while completely leaving consonants off in others was a challenge. "Git'erowwt!" and "Tag'er" were not readily found in their well-worn dictionaries.

    My sister played. Well, she was on the team. Bless her heart and G-d love her, catching a ball was (and still is) NOT one of her talents. She would stretch out her gloved hand as far as she could, turn her head the other way, close her eyes, and hope for the best. Like I said, bless her heart and G-d love her.

    I followed professional baseball for several years, but haven't followed it for a while now. I haven't been to a professional baseball game - minor or major league - in a couple of years, either. No matter. It's not summer until baseball season starts. That's just the way it is.
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