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It is finally time for me to get back into baseball

I’m going to try again.

This spring, I’m going to try and renew my interest in baseball.

There was a time in my earlier years when I was a huge fan of baseball. In my youth, I would look forward to the coming of the boys of summer. Football season was over. I was not good at basketball, but I was a fair baseball player – at least in the field. I had that reputation as a “good field, no hit” player, who could snag anything hit to him in the outfield.

And in the 50s and 60s, when I was growing up, there were the stars: Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Frank Robinson and Bill Mazeroski. We didn’t have ESPN or Fox Sports or any other of the proliferation of sports networks now across cable and satellite; with the exception of the World Series, baseball was broadcast one day a week on Saturday (until Houston got a major league team).

The “Falstaff Game of the Week” came on Saturday afternoon in the spring and summer with Hall of Famers Dizzy Dean and PeeWee Reese handling the color and play-by-play. Dizzy Dean would periodically break into a chorus of “Wabash Cannonball,” and during the seventh inning stretch, PeeWee, an all-star shortstop, would give baseball tips to all of us future Hall of Famers.

When Houston went from being a triple-A farm club of the St. Louis Cardinals to first the Colt .45s and then the Astros (after the Astrodome opened). Professional baseball came closer to home, and trips to see relatives in Houston always included a ball game. I remember watching the Cincinnati Reds of Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Lee May, Jose Concepcion and Pete Rose in their prime – “Big Red Machine” -play in the Astrodome.

Those were the days when baseball was an enjoyable pastime. I don’t know what caused me to change my opinion. Maybe it was the advent of the designated hitter and aluminum baseball bats, which to me signaled the end of civilization as we knew it. I could get along with artificial turf, unlike Crash Davis, Kevin Costner’s character in “Bull Durham,” who despised Astroturf.

Or maybe, it was the fact that suddenly I was watching the grandchildren of the men I watched play as I grew up. But it may have been the advent of free agency, something I have never liked Curt Flood for. While I can understand the desire of someone to get a better deal, it seemed like every one or two years players were changing teams as free agents, and I couldn’t get a good sense of a team. I didn’t know who to root for.

But this year may be different. For one thing, the year starts off with the Chicago Cubs as the defending World Series champions. That could make things interesting. Whoever figured the Cubs to become a powerhouse? And I would like to renew my old relationship with the Astros.

Yep, I’m going to give baseball another try. The season’s young and I can easily get started.

Now, can someone tell me where to get a retro Astros or Colt .45 cap?

John Surratt is a staff writer with The Vicksubrg Post. His email is john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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