Our Sandlot Included Jackie, Joyce, and Caroline

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Our Sandlot Included Jackie, Joyce, and Caroline, three sisters. The movie “The Sandlot” brought to mind our own sandlot right after WWII. We welcomed all who wanted to play baseball.

A description of the field might be appropo. It was a grass grazing field for the cows of the grandparents of a friend. When the cows were elsewhere, we got to use it for a baseball field.

Nobody hit left-handed. That fit the right-field dimensions, because the woods started just beyond the line between first and second base.

The trees went into the beginning of centerfield. If you hit the ball hard enough over those trees, there was a sentinel huge pine tree in the middle of center field that served as a beacon to be hit by anyone strong enough, which consisted of only my closest friend.

There was some leftfield, but then some trees, and maybe more important poison oak, scads of poison oak which I could run through at the time with no ill effects. Now if I go in the woods back of our house, the poison oak starts looking for me to do major damage

I don’t recall the age groups, probably 12 to 15. Jackie was the oldest, Joyce next, and Caroline the youngest, all within that age group.

Jackie and Joyce wore shoes, but Caroline didn’t seem to think they were necessary. Jackie was very much the tom-boy, Joyce still very much a lady, and Caroline a hybrid between the two. None of that interfered with their ability to play baseball.

I’m not sure where they learned their skills. Jackie was a pitcher and threw the ball 98 miles an hour on a sticky, humid day, and 101 miles per hour when the sun had parch dried everything around for about three days.

When Jackie wasn’t instilling fear in the hitters, she picked up a bat herself, and instilled fear in the pitcher. Those screaming line drives she hit into left field, I tried to act like I had gotten tangled up in the poison oak to give the ball an opportunity to hit the dirt, and not blister my hand if I tried to catch it. Jackie invariably wound up at second base, while I tossed the ball to third

Joyce was more delicate in the way she hit the baseball, seeming to fear she might damage it. Gentle pop flies that always hit the pines about five feet above my head. She would be standing at second base before I sorted through the poison oak to find the baseball.

Caroline was closer to my age, and always eyed me before she hit the baseball. I was never sure if she thought of me as a romantic interest or only a baseball player. She hit grounders, and was satisfied with a single, while I tossed the baseball into second base.

Unlike “The Sandlot” I had no way of knowing their later life, but did imagine what happened to them.

Jackie became a general in the Army. Joyce became Miss America (she was good-looking), and Caroline bought 374 pairs of shoes when she grew up.

On a summer afternoon, when my mind wanders, and a warm, slight breeze drifts across my face, that scene of Jackie, Joyce, Caroline, and the others freezes in my thoughts temporarily. Our baseball skills might have been questionable, but never our good times.

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