Sunday, May 25, 2008

The games we played

Craig had a question one day last week – his topic of the day – and it involved “what did you do for fun as a kid?”

Well, since we didn’t have a lot of money as kids, we improvised. A group of guys, or kids, I ran around with quite a bit: Jim Patterson, Ed Stinson, Jerry Jack Stewart, among others, played a little baseball game every so often. Every day during the summer, practically.

We all gathered at Jim Patterson’s house, probably much to Jim’s mother chagrin. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, because she always knew where her sons were. There were very few times when she failed to bake cookies or had something as treats for a hungry gang of boys.

Yep, we all had fun at Jim’s house. One might think we gained weight with all the cookies, but as kids we burned off all the excess calories. We listened to records, ate snacks and played our games, by golly.

Jim had a little home-made plywood game board, maybe 2 feet by 3 1/2 feet, and we played our version of baseball.

It had a small nail in a “bat,” which would revolve. One guy would roll a marble and the other guy would twirl the bat. The board had nails at strategic places and holes for the marble to go in.

Sort of a poor man’s version of pin ball, if you will. Each hole was “designated” as a hit -- single, double, triple or home run -- or an out.

I was always the Yankees, naturally. Jim was the Giants, Ed the Orioles, etc.

Whomever was on offense kept the scorebook. That way, we could keep up with each player’s averages. We knew the lineups of our favorite team.

I always had Mantle and Maris, etc. Jim always had Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, etc. We had enough guys to represent each team in the American and National Leagues.

We even posted the individual stats, to keep up with leaders.

Of course, we kept up with the win-loss records, and eventually had a World Series between the winners of each league.

Joe Babcock made a board for me. He could build almost anything in his dad’s Hobby Shop.

It was a good-sized board, so it was known as Yankee Stadium. It had a small piece of tin around it for a fence. Really, it was so large, I kept it in my bedroom and usually had only one guy over to play. There was hardly room for the other guys, and my mother worked, so she wasn’t around to have cookies and goodies for my friends.

We also had an electric football league. We had enough guys for each team in the Big 8, and we usually played at Jon Hall’s house. Jon was always Oklahoma, I was the Missouri Tigers. John Marvin Wright was Kansas. Don’t exactly remember who Jim was.

We painted the little football men, complete with school colors and numbers on each player. Again, we kept stats, win-loss records, etc.

Probably, keeping stats so much as youngsters, had something to do with Jim and I going into sports writing as careers. Who knows?


At May 26, 2008 at 9:17 AM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...

Nice blog, John. When I was a little kid right after WWII we usually went to the corner of what is now 4th and H. During the day we played "baseball" if we someone who had a bat and a ball showed up. Gleves were essentially non-existent. As we got older, we gathered there in the early evenings and played classics such as "Spin the bottle" and "Walk around the house". My first "real girl kiss" came there at the tender age of ten. Years later we sometimes gathered behind Rockman's station on the highway and played touch football or just listened to baseball games on the radio.

At May 26, 2008 at 11:24 AM , Blogger John Inman said...

Thanks, Glen. Life was so much simple back in those days. Heavener was a great place to grow up, and, like you, we had fun just doing the little things.

At May 28, 2008 at 9:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, those were the good ol' days. I was thinking that you had the first baseball board, John, and then my dad made one like it.

As for the electric football, I can't remember which team I was.

I also remember playing wiffle ball in Jon Hall's backyard. Jon also liked to box, but I quickly learned not to box with him. He was very competitive.

At May 28, 2008 at 10:42 AM , Blogger John Inman said...

Yes, Jon was VERY competitive in EVERYthing he did. From electric football to wiffleball. I don't think I had the first board. Joe made mine after we started playing on your's.


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