“So say hey Willie, tell Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio;
Don’t say ‘It ain’t so,’ you know the time is now.
Oh, put me in coach — I’m ready to play today;
Put me in, coach — I’m ready to play.
Look at me, gotta be Centerfield.”
A few weeks ago — on one of the hottest days of July — I was sitting under a shade tree in Truman, watching Nephew Blake play town ball for the Fox Lake Foxes and enjoying all of the baseball-themed music that played over the speakers when the Foxes were up to bat.
There was one song in particular that caught my attention — John Fogerty’s "Centerfield."
It brought me back to the days of my youth on the farm, trying to compete in hitting contests with my brothers as Dad pitched. While the memory has faded somewhat, I’m absolutely sure I wasn’t that good. I did my best to take aim at the sympathy pitches, but still, I recall the thud when the ball sailed on by and hit the granary behind home plate.
As typical kids, we didn’t always go outside to toss the ball around, be it a football, baseball, hacky sack, tennis ball or ping pong ball. I can still hear Mom yelling, “Not in the house! Get outside if you’re going to throw that!”
Fast forward to today, many years later, and what do I do in my spare time with an energetic puppy in the house? Toss the fetch toys, Lamb Chop, plastic bottles — whatever it is Chloe seems to be most interested in at the moment.
Every time I come close to hitting something breakable — my Willow Tree angels, the protective glass over my framed needlework, the ceiling fan — I hear my Mom’s voice, “Not in the house!”
One of these days, I’m going to wish I’d listened.
On Sunday, I did indeed take Chloe’s fetch toy outside to play at the farm.
Can you guess what happened?
On my second toss, the thing landed square in the evergreen tree, about 10 feet off the ground. Chloe was competing with Nephew Matt’s chocolate lab, Bella, for retrieval and the two looked all over for that toy. Then they curiously watched and patiently waited as I grabbed the leaf rake from the garden and knocked the toy out of the tree.
Coming from the lineage of talented Buntjer ballplayers — pitchers in particular — one might think I would have inherited some degree of aim. Not so. Not even close.
I recently tossed Chloe’s toy into the kitchen at home, intent on aiming for the back door. The toy, however, sailed into the decorative greenery displayed around a mirror hanging about five feet off the floor. No worries there — nothing was damaged.
The incident followed a near heart-stopper in the living room, in which I attempted to toss Chloe’s toy into my office, only to gasp as it bounced off the wall about 10 inches above my Willow Tree angels, thankfully clearing the display as it fell to the floor. “Not in the house!” rang through my ears loud and clear.
So, back to Sunday and tossing the toy outside for the pooches. They were having fun as I tossed the toy in one direction and then another and another.
And then the game suddenly came to a stop. I hung my head and called the dogs indoors.
The fetch toy landed without a bounce on the roof of the garage, where I’m sure it would have remained if not for Nephew Matt’s willingness to climb the ladder I had positioned by the back door and use the rake I’d leaned against the ladder.
I’m only now imagining the head shaking he must have done. I was too embarrassed to stick around and endure the shame.