In the mystic mists of my mind, baseball diamonds of summers past echo the sounds of long ago. A place where the baseball splits the humid Hoosier air, and voices of young men revel in the heat of summer. The pop of cowhide into leather is an announcement that a game of catch is underway.
Boys tend to remember a game of catch with their fathers, but for me it conjures memories of countless hours tossing a ball back and forth with my brother. Despite our sibling rivalry that exists to this day, I look upon those days with fondness. We were once told that if one of us caught a cold the other would catch it too.
I came to bat against him once with the bases loaded and nobody out. I dug into the batter’s box like the Mighty Casey, and awaited his first pitch. A high heater under my chin sent my backside into the dirt. As I dusted myself off I looked out at the mound – at my brother standing with a huge grin on his face.
In 1980, my brother was shot during an attempted robbery. I rushed home from my base in
the naval hospital in Germany where
he was stationed. He was in poor shape when I arrived. I didn’t know what to
say. I was stunned by his condition. I told him: “Don’t worry - only the good
die young.” He started laughing despite the pain and then proceeded to get the
nurse to kick me out of the ward. , Orlando Florida
A couple of weeks later he was out of the hospital recovering at home. My leave was almost up, and he stepped into the living room with both of our gloves, and a ball. We could not toss it far because of his injuries, but I knew everything was going to be fine.
It has been thirty years since our last game of catch. I sometimes close my eyes and hear our barbs at one another as we toss the baseball. As brothers we’re very competitive, but I wouldn’t trade those hours of tossing a baseball that built a bond lasting a lifetime.