Fast Pitch Softball
Reflections of my childhood...
Just about any evening during the summertime all the kids would go to the softball field out the street behind the school to watch teams made up of workers from the various industries in town. Teams were made of young guys that had played sports for one of the high schools in the area and after graduation had gone to work in one of the plants. Many of these guys could hardly wait to clock out each day before heading across town to one of the softball fields devoted to the Industrial Softball League during the 1950’s in my hometown. Companies like Monroe Calculating, Pet Dairy, Raytheon, and Coke Cola Bottling just to name a few formed company teams that would compete for trophies to place inside their awards cabinets back at the plants where they worked. The firms would provide the uniforms and equipment and the men provided the energy and talent to assure an evening of sport and excitement.
I would make sure our presence was known
After supper I would run out the front door, out the walk and through the front gate to meet up with other youth who were rushing out the street to help the players gather the equipment out of their cars and start warm-ups. Duffle bags of softballs, softball bats, gloves and bases would be unloaded from their cars or pickup trucks and placed in position on the field and as other players arrived my friends and I would make sure our presence was known hoping we might be selected as bat boys for this evening’s game. My friends and I knew that ball field because we attended that old school up on the hill and played ball ourselves there during the school year.
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Most of the guys came straight from work
One could sense the excitement growing as each moment brought another car or two filled with more players, coaches and umpires not to mention the spectators who were usually the families of the players as well as the residents in the community. Most of the guys came straight from work and you could see them rushing to change to their uniforms while still in their cars all the while their fellow teammates hollering for them to hurry it was almost game time. While most of the players worked at the plants that had teams in the Industrial League every now and then you might see a ‘fill in’ or substitute maybe to play in place of a regular team member who might be on vacation or having to pull shift work and wouldn’t be unavailable for the games this week.
‘batter up - play ball…’
Remember, TV was just beginning to appear in the area and not everyone had opportunity to purchase a set, and besides all the programing was local anyway because the station had not received full affiliation so resident attendance was high because my hometown was not a big city. We all knew the players as sons or uncles and any substitute or ‘fill in’ would stick out like a sore thumb because of no uniform and having to play in plain clothes. The umpire had flipped the coin to determine who was a bat first and the teams were taking position either in the field or lining up according to their individual batting order. We were all ready to begin an evening of fast pitch softball as the umpire could be seen sweeping off home plate one final time in anticipation of the first pitch and yelling out, ‘batter up - play ball…’