Aaron Johnson / In the yard playing ball
Published 4:34 pm, Thursday, June 15, 2017
There is a different energy in the world once the calendar changes into the dog days of summer. It might be the heat or kids just getting a much needed break to enjoy some time away from the classroom.
Who really knows?
But for me growing up, the summer was the best of times — always the same routine once school let out.
In the yard, playing baseball with my brothers and the rest of the kids from my old neighborhood in the south end of Stratford.
It was before a football injury messed up what had been a pretty solid knee, and way before “fine college cuisine” added about 50 pounds of unwanted girth.
Pretending to be Williams at the plate, while providing commentary al la Scott’s trademark intoxicating delivery.
The innocence of those summer days of early youth gave way to the growth and maturity of middle school and high school.
But baseball in the dog days remained.
Although it was a lot of work - practicing in the morning catching fly balls and hitting off a tee until it was too dark to see - it was still fun.
Turning on the porch light just to get those last couple of swings in before getting called inside for dinner.
Once high school started, summers became about traveling to play ball — and it was the long drives and even longer seasons that would be some of the greatest summers of my life.
It was an absolute blast, plus it didn’t hurt we were pretty good too.
The Connecticut Lightning.
A smorgasbord of talent from Shelton, Stratford, Bridgeport, Monroe, and Trumbull — a collection of some great players that would go on to play high level baseball in both college and beyond.
And even this one red-haired kid that was on the team from Stratford too.
He was pretty good.
I heard he found seasonal work down in Pittsburgh for some guy named Tomlin.
We had guy they now call “Dirty Red.”
A guy we called “Baby Joe,” who despite his size was the most clutch player I ever played with in any sport.
A kid we called “Bronx.”
A catcher named “Frizz,” and passionate, fiery coach and his son, who once hit two grand slams in the same inning.
It was something straight out of the old baseball movie, “The Sandlot,” just a group of young guys that loved the game of baseball, were good players, but even better people.
And who may have stumbled into some mischief along the way too.
That team is the first thing I think about when the summer starts to roll in.
As the temperature rises and that smell of fresh cut grass seeps its way into my nose - a wave of nostalgia and laughs overcome my thoughts.
Back when it was all about hitting home runs and just having fun.