It all began late one morning... early Spring of this year... the air smelled mixed with just-cut wet grass and freshly-oiled leather baseball glove... the blending sounds of distant songbirds and close-by kid's voices were silenced by a distinctive "CRACK of the bat"... and I woke out of my dream. I didn't know, at that very moment, which was worse... the thought of climbing out of a toasty warm bed... or... the fact that I wasn't going to play baseball today... because there was no baseball where I was... a little border town in North-East Poland.
Over my first cup of coffee I decided getting out of bed was worse... besides, for these old bones it was a little too cold to play baseball just yet...so I rationalized... only in dreams and childhood are you never too old or too cold... but the thought of only playing baseball in my dreams haunted me ... but what could I do?
The answer came during the second cup... it was so simple... play baseball... but I needed someone to play with... I needed players!
It just so happened that it was a Monday and I would be meeting my 3rd and 4th Grade after-school English conversation class... and the lesson for that day just happened to be action verbs like "hit", "run", and "play". Fate has such strange and wonderful ways of manifesting itself ... for ironically our examples of the verb "play" led to one boy's question... "What games do boys and girls play in America?"... I said, "In America they play baseball"... a little girl then asked, "What is baseball?"... BINGO! Baseball was born that very moment in August�w.
"What is baseball? Well it's more than just a game... it takes you outdoors... it exercises all your muscles... it sharpens your concentration... it gives you that great feeling of belonging to a team that wins... and yet it teaches you how to lose like a good sport... it's an exciting game with an exciting history, etc. etc. etc." Well, by the end of the speech only two decided not to investigate the baseball matter any further... the rest wanted to meet the next aftemoon for our first practice. I had my players... I was going to play baseball... not just in my dreams... besides, I couldn't fall asleep, I was too excited... I called home and told my Dad that "We're going to play baseball in Mom's hometown." ... "I didn't know they play baseball in Poland." ... "They don't as far as I know." ... "Where are you going to get the equipment?" ... "Well, that's one of the reasons I'm calling, Dad." ... "We'll see what we can get together and send over. Thanks Dad.:."
Whatever equipment they could send would take at least a few weeks to arrive, but I had practice today... so I went shopping at the "rynek" early that moming and bought every ball I could find... six scuffed tennis and three well-chewed rubber balls... they would have to do for the beginning...
I arrived for practice twenty minutes early... there were already well over the number of students from my English class... I expected eleven boys and girls... but word had spread quickly throughout the land of little people that school morning... the yard was filled with children waiting for their first baseball practice... and I only had nine balls.
That night it was my Dad's turn not to sleep... he was excited... he called me... "How did your first practice go today?"... "Unbelievable...I had forty-two kids show up!" "That's great, let me tell you what your Mother's been up to today...she's already packed two cartons of your old baseball equipment she found in the attic, and has asked your brothers and sisters to help...'
And help they did... soon the boxes started arriving... dozens of them... filled with equipment they had gathered from flea markets, garage sales and donations... gloves and bats and balls and catcher's gear and trophies and 150 new baseball caps which were on sale for a buck apiece (my Mom never could resist a good sale)... I felt just like a kid at Christmas every time the delivery man came... and Santa Claus when I went to each practice with a bag of new gear.
The kids were having fun acquiring their new playing skills and learning the rules... I was having a ball.
With my family's help and the kids' enthusiasm we formed four teams, 2 REDS and 2 BLUES... maybe not very original names... but they represented the two colors of caps my Mom sent and adequately made up our names and our uniforms... now we were ready for our first game.
It began early that late Spring morning... the air smelled mixed with leather and grass... the blended sounds of children and birds and the "CRACK of the bat"... and I was making my dream!