The problem, albeit a good one, is that all my grand kids are quite talented. As a result they play a lot of games for teams that are quite good. Two of the boys, the 15 and 12 year olds, play in travel leagues with games all over the county, out state and even out of state. It’s a grueling schedule, but the boys and their parents seem to thrive in it and keep their grades up as well.
The other two, the 10 and 13 year olds play for a recreational league. Both have won titles and both have excelled, although the level of competition is not as great.
The boys especially the 12 and 15 year old play for sponsors who are not shy about outfitting them with the finest equipment and uniforms. I bring all this into the story so that I can equate their experiences with mine - way back in the 50’s.
Back then I played for a Detroit Parks and Recreation League then went on to play in the Detroit Firemen's League.
The early days before joining the organized leagues, having a baseball that was intact with its original horsehide cover was a luxury. The fields we played on were covered with a mysterious compound we called “crusher Dust” which we later learned was the residue from the Ford Motor blast furnaces at the Rouge Plant that had been crushed into fine particles then spread on our infields. I am sure that by today’s standards it would have been banned because of all the dangerous chemicals and carcinogens it contained. Balls hit into the field were soon abraded as if they had been worked over with gritty sandpaper. After two or three games the cover would disintegrate.
This was my first foray into the wonderful field of medicine and its many wonderful life sustaining products. the most significant of which were the rolls of white adhesive tape that we all assumed was made to cure badly scarred baseballs. Thank goodness for Johnson and Johnson, the giant medical supply company that invented this miracle product.
Over the course of a season, we would go through dozens of rolls of J & J white medical adhesive tape. It was the responsibility of every kid on our rag tag teams to carry a role in their pockets. We all learned how to carefully wrap a layer of tape tightly around the ball and save it for game after game of additional play. When the tape wore, we would remove the tattered old and replace it with a fresh application. At twenty cents a roll. tape was much more affordable for us kids than a $3.50 baseball. It was years later that we learned the tape had a medical application outside of curing baseballs.
Today, my grand kids go through real baseballs like popcorn and think nothing of it. They will never experience the wonders of tape enhanced baseball. Too bad -so sad. As for me, I still look at each leather bound baseball with reverence, respect and awe and think back to those days when tape was king.
Some of the guys, particularly the pitchers, actually preferred to play with the taped balls. The elliptical shape resulting from the taping gave those balls the ability to curve, dip and spin in ways a major league pitcher would love to master.