Baseball in Somewhat Later Years

By Ken Goldfarb

Unlike a lot of “real” sports fans, I cannot recall many specifics about baseball, the game that I have learned to love more and more as time passed.

Games I have seen, along with major league records or player stats or even who won the World Series in any particular year, are a blur.

Then again, that’s not always the case if it involves the Mets, or the old Brooklyn Dodgers.

As a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the early 50s there was only one team to root for, the hometown Dodgers. How two very famous Brooklyn boys failed in that regard – Joe Torre rooted for the old New York Giants, and Rudy Giuliani went with the Yankees – is beyond me.

For me it was the Duke, Jackie, Pee Wee, Campy, Gil and the rest of the Boys of Summer.

Similar to Mike Kaufman’s experience, which he wrote about in last week’s Zest of Orange, my first view of the unbelievable green of Ebbets Field was awesome to this 5-year old. You have to remember that back then, color television had not yet reached the average viewer. So to watch Dodgers games on WOR-TV in shades of grey, and then to actually see them in person (with the vibrant colors of the field and the players’ sparkling white uniforms), took my breath away.

I have no recollection of who the visiting team was, or who won the game. But, I do remember Roy Campanella, the very talented but ill-fated catcher of the Dodgers, hit a line drive straight at us sitting in the leftfield stands. This wasn’t one of those parabolic home runs with an apogee somewhere high over the grass that then slowly came down into the seats. This was a rocket aimed right at us. The ever enlarging ball seemed at first to have me or my dad as its intended target. But it flew above us and was still going up when a man seated directly behind us stood and tried to catch it in his bare right hand. He failed, and the ball dropped down and wandered under the seats to someone a few rows in front of us. But the man who first put flesh to Campy’s home run shot was now suffering. From the ball’s impact, his hand had swollen to almost twice its normal size.

As for me, I had no baseball skills back in my youth. I was usually chosen last in any of the Brooklyn street games, and my two seasons of Little League ball were un-noteworthy.

Jump ahead a few decades and I got talked into playing in a casual coed softball game. I still didn’t have much success, but enjoyed playing.

Then, six years ago, when I was 62, I had the guts to join a senior men’s baseball team.

Yes, baseball – hard ball – the real game. Now, I have to say my skills are still quite limited. On top of everything else, I am the oldest player on my 55-and-over team. But there are magical moments. Such as when you hit a baseball with a wooden bat and hear and feel the proverbial crack of the bat. It is a sound that enters your entire being with a thrill rarely matched by other experience.

Almost as thrilling was a particular at-bat that stands out as my proudest moment as a ball player. It was in my second year, and I was on a new team after having had an off-season disagreement with the manager of my first team, the Cougars. I was now on the Hawks and we were playing the Cougars.

The game was tied – we were the home team – and I led off in the first extra inning. For the first time in my life I decided to bunt, and a very successful bunt it was. I beat the throw to first base for an infield hit, but the ball couldn’t be handled, and I ended up on second base. Then I got to third on a ground-out.

Our next batter hit a slow ground ball to the third baseman and I was immediately off and running for home, easily scoring the winning run. What a grand moment – and against my old team. It doesn’t get any better.

By the way, I’m still playing, and got a nice hit in the recent brutal heat with a hard ground ball down the foul line that the third baseman couldn’t touch.

Not bad for an old man.

Ken Goldfarb was news director at WVOS in Sullivan County and later a reporter for The Times Herald-Record of Middletown and the Daily Gazette of Schenectady. He now works in public relations.








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3 Responses to “Baseball in Somewhat Later Years”

  1. gbernstein Says:

    not bad for an ‘old man’ at all.. gbernstein

  2. Jo Galante Cicale Says:

    Hey Ken, so good to read u on zest. hope there’ll b more. also hope all is well. alex and i became grandparents in april to christopher francesco. where have the years gone!!!

  3. Michael Kaufman Says:

    Not bad, kid. I’m with Jo: More! (And does anyone know of a senior league in Orange?)

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