Sports As It Should Be
It is said that as we remember the events of our lives, what we really remember is only bits and pieces of the entire picture. Our memories are colored by our own prejudices and experience, we basically remember what we want to remember, and it is not always the most accurate retelling of events. I try to keep this in mind, as I remember the summer of 1982 and playing Babe Ruth Baseball for the Damariscotta Lions. It was one of the most purely fun events I ever participated in.
In the summer of 1982 I had just finished my freshman year in high school, and was I think pretty typical for that time. When I look at all of the sports specialization that goes on today, and the over parenting and over coaching of kids, it is with deep appreciation I look back on the experience of being a part of this team. We had two coaches, who at the time were in their 20’s, Tom Burnham and Dana Bond clearly had a love of the game and wanted to teach the game of baseball. I don’t remember many specifics about the game. I know I was allowed to play most positions on the field at some point, during the season, playing the bulk of my time at second base, but also playing third, first, catching and all the outfield positions.
I remember the focus was on winning and having fun. That is what I remember. Perhaps that was the main focus or perhaps because we won all our games it was fun. Who knows which, but I know that I couldn’t have looked more forward to playing. Double header against Wiscassett? No problem. Play two or three position get eight to ten at bats and win two games. Sounds like a great day for me.
Trying to remember specific things is difficult at this time. They don’t really matter now, only the complete mosaic counts. I think that many people on that team have positive memories of the experience. There was no complaining by the players or the parents about positions or playing time. In fact I can’t recall any negative experience at all during that season. All of the parents supported every kid and since we usually had nine and some times eight, we still managed to win. I remember we won one game with only eight active players after one of our guys got ejected for throwing his bat. All I can say is he didn’t mean to. I ended that game playing center-left field.
It may be impossible for sports today to ever provide that type of experience. You would have to have a group of individuals who were not under any pressure other than to do your best, try to win and have fun doing it. That was the recipe that provided me with this wonderful experience I was fortunate to have when I was 15.
And it was not just me that remembers this team in this way. In the past year I have had conversations with three of my teammates from the Damariscotta Lions and each mentioned this team and how much fun they had. Yes my memory may not be what it used to, but four people who remember an experience as fun, awesome and great, have to be remembering it correctly.
Thank you to Dana Bond and Tom Burnham for dedicating their time and love of the game to all of us.