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Sporting Matters


The Boys of Summer – Part One.

with: Jamie Spencer

The 2017 Little League baseball season is in full SWING as many youngsters across our great nation are GEARING up for a midsummer run. Many local teams had their opening day ceremonies recently and the madness of hanging out at the ballpark has officially begun. Yes, we've been playing games for months now but there is something special about announcing 80 kiddos and having them run onto the field for some pictures and the pledge. You totally butchered my son's name Spencer. No. That's exactly how I pronounced it. Bedlam.
Jensen is in his fifth year of organized ball. Say what? We start them young in the 17728. He plays for the Susquehanna Marble & Granites of Hepburn Lycoming Little League. Jensen, league age 8, and his chums are off to an impressive start. They are an awfully tough squad in the kids pitch Minor A circuit. He loves the game of baseball and his passion is rubbing off on dad. It's contagious.
I too played lots of baseball when I was his age. Oh the wonder years. OK, I wasn't the greatest player — but I could hold my own. I guarded second and pitched for Boulder Arrowhead Little League (BALL) of Billings, Montana. My All-Star jacket still proudly hangs in the closet. Incredibly we made it all the way to Williamsport and the Little League World Series that summer but in a different way. My family moved here in August of 88 and we were in the stands for the championship game. #cwhatididthere.
I often compare my talents and GEAR with the kids of today. That's what us former players do to stay in the game. Wow. A double play! Sure. That was nice, but you should have seen me in my prime. Your lad is a great hitter, but he couldn't handle my curveball.
I truly had a wonderful experience with Little League baseball and the entire program taught me a great deal. I can only hope for the same with Jensen and his mates. Unfortunately the times have changed. Our culture is much different and I fear for it's future. Drum roll please.
My neighborhood friends and I only played in the summer and we didn't need a parent or coach to organize our games. We met up at a nearby field that was abandoned. I had an old glove that lasted three full seasons. I also rode my bike to every practice and pick up game. We weren't dependent on Moms and Dads.
No one had their own helmet or bat back then either. Each league provided their teams with the equipment and we SHARED. 4 helmets and 2 bats. And if the bases were loaded there was ZERO chance you'd be heading to the plate with a conforming #USAbaseball lid. #foreshadowing.
It is the total opposite nowadays. From tee ballers to senior leaguers — it is just insane. Everyone has a bat, helmet and glove all neatly packed in an oversized bag. I mean EVERYONE. It's the norm. Heck I even saw one kid with his very own custom catching gear. I wouldn't even dare to guess at the price.
Yes. The newest and finest baseball equipment doesn't come cheap. I have several friends who purchased $295 Easton bats for their lads this year. Some youngsters are even strapped with as many as four. Big business folks. It's cray. Instead of buying off the top shelf — the Spencers rely on an old pal and his son who now plays HS ball. Parr and Cioff hooked Jensen up for the next twenty years. We're good. Until now.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end as you can expect a MAJOR change in "permissible" baseball bats. Little League's new policy starts in 2018 and it will certainly affect EVERYONE. Old bats. New bats. Everything must go kids. We're sorry. It needs to be STAMPED. SWING on by your favorite page next week for more. Until then sports fans. #Cheers.