Sorry Alice Cooper
My blog takes the name of one of my favorite ways to enjoy fishing. Practice casting in my front yard which has no water nor fish. Our home is located at the top of a tee intersection with a three way stop.
Trees prevent effective casts in our back yard and so I use the unobstructed portion of the front yard to practice my casting and conduct a long term study of the behavior of my neighbors. I have gathered sufficient data to conclude that 50% of the drivers stopping at our intersection roll down their car window. 75% of those rolling down their windows ask, “Catching anything?” The question is often delivered with a smile and a smirk that delivers the message, who is this curious man or as my daughter just said, Who is this total weirdo?
I have taken pride in this yard over the years but there is another yard in the neighborhood, a ball yard, upon which I have spent a lot of time over the last twenty five years.
My sons Nate, Pete, and Seth all played baseball for the Thomas Worthington Cardinals on the field. While they were in high school, I participated in the parent group and did work on the field, spring, summer, and fall.
After the varsity Cardinals went 0-18 during the spring of 1990, the head coach went to Italy for the summer and I was drafted to coach the summer version of the Cardinals upon which son Nate played. I coached legion baseball on the field. I started a summer baseball team for college aged players after son, Pete, went to Baldwin Wallace and returned after his freshman year with no summer team to play on. We called the team the Columbus Bombers.
Following the example of my wife, I felt that if you host a party, the party site needs to be perfect. Bomber games were typically on Sundays and I would arrive at the field at 6 am to mow, weed, edge, drag, sweep dugouts, and paint bases! The field was always spectacular by game time, at least through my eyes.
After my boys graduated, I began to coach Cardinal baseball with Steve Gussler as my leader. We lost heart breakers and won championships. We laughed together and as Coach Gussler fought cancer, we also learned to cry together. We taught a little baseball and a lot of life and I even led yoga in the outfield.
My connection to the front yard of Cardinal baseball was so strong that I would drive by the field to check to make sure things were in order on the way home for church on Sunday and on the way home from work Monday through Friday. Coach Gussler worked on the field with a relentless passion to make the field a show place. In fact, the field is now known as Gussler Park. Guss made one thing clear! No one was to use the field other than the Cardinals and their invited guests.
So you can imagine my shock and intense dismay when I drove by the field on the way home form work one July evening about ten years ago only to see the normally locked gates open and a bunch of scruffy guys in shorts and jeans playing softball on what I considered to be MY baseball diamond.”
As I slowed my car in the roadway which circled the field and rolled down the window, I tried to keep the irritation out of my voice as I hollered, “hey guys, what are you doing?” “What’s it look like we’re doing genius, we are playing softball!”
The retort was delivered by a dude with long hair, skinny, with an intonation that my Grandma Rowe would have concluded belonged to a smart aleck. I was certain Coach Gussler would never have given permission for a pick up softball game to played on our baseball diamond. I had not been so upset since I made my only trip to Fenway Park on a non game day and during our tour discovered that there was a celebrity softball home run derby being conducted in front of the Green Monster! Outrageous!
I confronted the scruffy one, “You know you need permission to play on this field!”
“We have permission, Sirrrrr.”
“Well, in twenty years, I have never seen anyone playing softball on our field! Do you mind if I call the head coach who by the way is the only person who can give permission?”
“Call whoever you want, ……” shouted the scruffy one as he completed the sentence by referring to a typically unseen part of my anatomy. Sullenly, I rolled up my window and headed home. The intruders continued hitting that obscene softball all over our beautiful baseball field paying me no mind and giving no respect.
As soon as I arrived home, I grabbed the phone and called Coach Gussler. “Coach, when I drove by the field on the way from work, the gates were unlocked and you are not going to believe what I saw on our ball field!” Coach let me prattle on for minutes about the scruffy, hippy looking dudes who were defiling our diamond in blue jeans and shorts playing softball shirtless. After I vented, he simply said, “Oh, you mean Alice Cooper and his band? They are playing the State Fair tonight and I got a call from the fair manager who asked if we would let them use the outfield for a game of softball. I said yes!”