WASHINGTON, D.C. 1950
Our parents had endured the Great Depression, our fathers the Great War. Our mothers were homemakers. Families were families – neighborhoods were neighborhoods. We were raised in homes without air conditioning. We played music on the victrola. We listened to baseball games on the radio.
We bought groceries at the A&P. Boys my age frequented delicatessens like the Cohen’s in Arlington Forest, Va., a suburb of Washington D.C. Mr. Cohen had candy bars and Mr. Cohen had baseball cards.
Many of us played baseball every day in the summertime. We scrounged for baseballs. If we lost one, we had to improvise. Concoct something of our own.
If we had a glove, we left it on the field when we went to bat. I had an old catcher’s mitt. It was twice as old as me. We wore t-shirts, dungarees and sneakers.
We played on dusty fields – there were fields in every neighborhood. We made our own bases and home plate. Sometimes they were just a slate of cardboard.
We had no umpires. No one called balls and strikes. We went to bat, took our swings and that was it. There were no scoreboards, no dugouts and never any parents around.
When we weren’t on a diamond, some of us got to go to Glen Echo Park. There was a Fun House, bumper cards, and the Penny Arcade. We could have a great time on a dollar or two.
I went to my first Washington Senators baseball game at Griffith Stadium in August 1950. Sandy Consuegra beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-2. My uncle bought me a Gil Coan miniature bat. Still have it in my den.
We called the Senators the Nats. They came up with more slogans than runs or hits. One of the chants we had was “We’ll Win Plenty with Sam Dente.”
Never in our wildest dreams did we really believe the Nats would Win Plenty with (shortstop) Sam Dente. Not even when Cass Michaels was obtained from the White Sox to play second base.
That was Once Upon A Diamond many years ago. Today, we belong to AARP and survive on Medicare.
The old ballparks are long gone. So are most of the players. Washington has itself a new team. The Nats.
Would you believe it – the Nats have won the pennant. (at least a Division Championship.)