Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

We're talking baseball

Wick's World

 


“We’re talking baseball, Kluszewski Campenella, yadda, yadda, yadda, maybe even Bobby Feller.” Although I may not remember the words, I certainly remember the fun.

Around my house, I have been talking baseball all my life.

Although critics of the game claim that it is a dying sport, little kids still pick up a stick and a rock, just like I did, and hit home runs into the neighbor’s backyard, just like I did. Understanding neighbors still tell parents that they have a backyard full of rocks and “Would you please take care of this?” just as mine were told.

I can’t tell you if Little League, now called Youth League, still thrives like it did back in my day. I think it is probably way more competitive than when we just played for the sheer joy of it. Back in the 50s and 60s, this is how fun baseball used to be back in my home town of Chamberlain, South Dakota:

We began a season this way: The headline in the local newspaper read, “Dale Saukerson hits Grand Slam as play begins.” Further on, “Larry Schoenhard also got a hit and Mike Holland was three for three.”

We ended a season this way: “Dit Fisher (Gary) hit a two-out double past a diving Ollie (Ron) Steckelberg to lead Birdie (John Jay) Verschoor’s Redlegs to victory in the championship game.”

That was the highlight of my career; and it’s true, I was Dit Fisher long before I became Wick. Back in Chamberlain, almost everyone was given a moniker other than their birth name; often by me. Wick, Wiggy, and Wally are actually Gary, Walt, and Dale. You get the drift.

Here is a more recent story about my baseball loving son. When his team traveled to Silver Bay for a high school baseball game, he may have hit the longest home run in Moose Lake history. It wasn’t that he was a great slugger (although he was). This home run began as a routine pop fly to the outfield. The notorious winds that come off Lake Superior happened to be blustering rather hard that afternoon. The wind took that pop fly to the center field fence and beyond. My son eventually found his monstrous wind-blown home run ball somewhere between Silver Bay and the Canadian Border.

Back in the 80s and 90s, I coached Moose Lake Little League Baseball. Like many moms and dads, I coached the teams my sons were playing on. Did I coach so my kids would get more playing time? Yup, you betcha. Any coach that says otherwise is probably lying. Today, many youth league teams find it hard to find coaches. Why is this? The biggest factor comes from complaining parents who want their kid to get more playing time. Due to the actions of helicopter parents, finding umpires is even harder.

I took the game seriously enough to want to win, but I was never so serious as to interfere with “fun” as being the most important part of the game. As a coach, I once had a situation where three of my players ended up on third base at the same time. I almost found myself rolling on the ground with laughter. No kids got yelled at and the crowd and parents enjoyed the situation as much as I did. I’m afraid that today you would find three eight-year-old children getting their butts chewed out by a stressed-out coach who is being held under the gun by parents to produce a winning team.

Try as we may, I don’t think anything we do as parents and grownups can shatter the dreams of a little kid who simply wants to continue on the next step of hitting a rock with a stick. At least I hope so.

 

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