Sunday, May 3, 2009


There are references in the Rosewood News about playing kitten ball. Which is, of course, another name for softball so named because women could play it, too.

Softball really started as in indoor sport on Thanksgiving of 1888. The ball was a rolled up boxing glove and a broom served as the bat.

While living as a third and fourth grader, we had enough kids in the neighborhood to play sand lot ball in Julie's front yard.

Home: the driveway,
First base: the sidewalk
Second base: Eddy's property line
Third base: The porch

One would think with the houses so close together we would have broken a few windows but the only think that broke was David's collarbone!

As sixth graders at Northrup Elementary School in Thief River Falls, we had a team. Only the catcher and the pitcher had gloves, the rest of the baseman caught the balls bare handed. I will tell you as a second base man, that ball hurt coming into your hands if you didn't catch it right.

If memory serves me right, the grade schools played against each other. It would be the first organized sport for girls. There was no baseball, hockey, basketball, track, or tennis played by females by 1962, at the time of all of us 44's would graduate.

Our team was most likely made up of mostly town kids or girls whose parents worked in town and lived in the country so they would pick their kids up. I was a farm kid with a parent who would pick me up.

At Lincoln High School, we had a six week grading system. In the spring, we had six weeks of softball. I think what we liked about it beyond being outdoors and playing ball itself was we got to wear something besides those nasty red gym suits. The most common look was jeans, a sweatshirt turned inside out, and a sailor cap with the brim pulled down. Others wore shorts and big sweatshirts and hide under a piece of cardboard they found because they were cold.

What I never did understand is, why was there never a plan? If it was a class, why weren't we ever given the fundamentals? Come to think of it, other than learned how to do the cha, cha, cha and other Latin dances, I don't remember direction in gym class.

And so, when the Girl Scout troop I was fortunate to have played ball and I got to coach, I had an opportunity to sit with them on the pavement and talk about it. Whether they remembered it or not, I felt it was part of what we were doing and important information.

Whether playing or coaching it was a grand time for me. I have a ball signed by the team as a gift; a true treasure.
How about you, did you play?

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