Little League baseball fills many youngsters’ late spring and early summer with dreams. For their love of the game comes to life with another season.
America’s pastime sparkles in the Magic City each summer. One of their own, Dave McNally, pitches for the Baltimore Orioles in the big leagues, and he has earned a World Series ring.
Boys throughout the city dream of filling those shoes of their local baseball hero. Alas, one team seems left outside the baselines, experiencing very little success.
They are called “Baseball’s Misfits” in the Central Heights League. Sponsored by the local Masonic Lodge, their nickname is the Masons. Over the past few seasons, many have labeled the team with stinging epitaphs. Other boys can sometimes be so cruel.
Their uniforms look like they are several seasons past their prime. The fading numbers and letters perfectly describe the team’s fortunes over the past couple of seasons . . . zero wins!
Could fortunes be changing for this band of misfits?
A new coach arrives on the scene, with a refreshing outlook for this team. Coach Pete, assisted by Zup, brings along his three sons, and they join a roster filled with a Laird, Zupan, Luetke, Olson, and a trio of Hjellum’s.
A sense of confidence begins to brew among the players. Could their field of dreams finally come true?
With coaches Pete and Zup guiding, the team learns more about the game. They teach and reteach, with patience and conviction, baseball’s fundamentals. More importantly, they build a positive spirit within the team.
The season rolls out, and the boys take the field with a new sense of believing in their field of dreams. However, other contending teams still look down at these former misfits. Watching the Masons, they see new coaches, a few added players, and the same old, fading uniforms. Sorry boys, not this season!
Playing through their schedule, the boys match wins with the other top team. People begin to take notice of this new team on the block. They look legitimate.
Entering the final game, the team needs one more win to capture the league championship. Fueled by past disappointments and demeaning ridicule, their destiny will now be fulfilled. League Champions!
Taking their championship dreams one step further, the team moves on to the city tournament. Here awaits a field of champions from the other neighborhood leagues in the city.
Losing in the semifinals dashes their ultimate dream. Despite the tears, the boys have experienced an amazing season, fulfilling their summer of dreams.
Special Note: While this account has been embellished a bit, the story is true. I had the pleasure to play on this team as a 12-year old. If you go back to the picture, you can find my Dad and two brothers (far left in the back, Coach Pete; front row far left, Doug; front row far right, Greg; and in the second row, second from the right is yours truly).