In Western North Carolina, memories of old-time baseball endure

For much of the 20th Century, small-town life in Western North Carolina revolved around the large-scale industrial enterprises that had sprung up across some of the most rural settlements in the state. 

The oh-so-sweet sound of bat and baseball

When our son, Jack, joined the high school marching band, he promptly announced his official retirement from baseball, unceremoniously closing the book on a 10-year career — from tee ball to senior league — that included at least a hundred games and untold thousands of practices, including those earliest ones in our back yard, where I taught him, among other things, how to turn his glove to catch the ball and how to shift his weight when swinging the bat.

Baseball field improvements move forward at SMHS

It will cost nearly half a million dollars to upgrade facilities at the Smoky Mountain High School baseball fields to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Next season, I’ve got some new mojo in mind

I am supposed to be watching a Dodgers game tonight. At this very moment, I should be pushing one of those “mini” grocery carts up and down the aisles of Ingles, stocking up on my usual menu of snacks when the Dodgers make the playoffs: tortilla chips and salsa verde for the first three innings, red seedless grapes for innings four through six, and then the clean-up hitter, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey in the last three innings.

Baseball for autistic youth planned in WNC

The fresh cut grass, the din of the crowd, the white chalk lines on the dusty dirt infield — every year, millions of American kids suit up and take to diamonds across the country to play baseball, for decades considered the quintessential outdoor American pastime.

As such, it hasn’t always been as inclusive as it is could have been, especially for people on the autism spectrum. 

The best reason of all to play

It’s one of those late March days that can’t make up its mind whether winter is really over or might hang on for another of weeks. When the sun elbows through a patch of low, gray clouds, it’s warm enough to take off your jacket, but then the wind picks up and you put it back on.

At what age does nostalgia set in?

When I was just about the same age my son is now, my dad took me to Atlanta to see the Atlanta Braves take on our favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. I wore my blue plastic Dodgers batting cap and was thrilled not only to see the players I knew from television and newspaper box scores in person, but to be there with my dad to see my first Major League baseball game in person.

The perfect game come round again

I found them in the corner of the basement, hidden like Easter Eggs underneath a blue tarp which was itself partially obscured by a couple of discarded boxes. Our basket of baseballs. I cannot recall exactly when or why we started keeping a dozen or more baseballs in an old Easter basket — most likely because it was handy and I couldn’t lay my hands on a bucket just then — but for the past several years, when spring rolls around and chases the frost out of the yard, I make my annual descent into the basement to fetch the baseball basket.

Opening Day brings renewed sense of hope

op coxI have turned off the talk shows, put down the newspapers, avoided barbershops and changed the subject at family gatherings. I know that eventually, this being an election year with the future of the republic at stake, I will have to put on my waders and trudge back into the primordial muck of politics. But not now. Not today. Because it is spring, and the world is, as the poet E.E. Cummings said, “mud luscious and puddle wonderful,” a long drink of elixir to rouse us from our long winter’s naps. Because every tree, every bush, every dandelion, every blade of grass is alive, alive, alive, as I am alive on my deck with a good book and a glass of red wine filled nearly to the brim, as the children are alive on their bikes and their skateboards and their own sweet adrenaline.

Macon hopes for home run

coverMacon County commissioners decided in a split vote this month to spend $3 million building a tournament-scale baseball and softball recreation complex.

“It’s been two years of pretty steady work, but it’s well worth it,” said Seth Adams, Macon County Parks and Recreation director. “I’m tickled to death that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.” 

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