WRITTEN BY JASON CLYMORE
Originally posted on October 21, 2011 on our old website
There are three main reasons I got in to coaching baseball back in 2003. The first one is that I believe there are very important life lessons that can be taught through baseball and being a coach allows you to help players grow as people using the game as the teacher. The second one is that while I was a very good player in my day there are a countless number of things from a mental, emotional and physical standpoint that I wish I had known that would’ve helped make me a better player or would’ve allowed me to reach a higher level. I’m hoping I can share what I’ve learned with our players so that they don’t make the same mistakes and are able reach their full potential. The third one is that I have had an unrivaled passion for the game of baseball since I was 5 years old and nothing makes me happier than to share that passion with young players.
That third reason is the purpose for this post. When I say I have an unrivaled passion for the game of baseball I mean I’m absolutely addicted to the game. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t dedicate a good chunk of time watching, playing, coaching, learning, researching, thinking or talking about the game. If there was a way to score or measure how much a person loves baseball, I’m 100% certain nobody on the planet would have a higher score than me.
This love affair with the game started at a very early age. As a child as early as 5 years old, I started creating different ways to get my daily dosage of the game of baseball. I wanted to use this post to share some of the ways my childhood buddies and I came up with to allow us to play some form of baseball regardless of the weather, how many people we had available or how much space we had available. I know the kids of today have PS4’s and XBox’s, so these are going to seem boring, but I prefer to think of them as nostalgic.
Before I get in to sharing these examples, I want to define my childhood. I was born in 1975 and graduated high school in 1993, so all of these examples were played in the span of 1980-1993. Some of the games mentioned below were for outside, some were for inside, some were meant to be played by yourself and others required at least one other person’s participation. In each case though, the goal of the game was never “just for fun”. Now, we had a blast with each one, so the fun was a given, but there was always a layer of competition and a layer of simulating or replaying real life major league baseball events at the core of all these ideas. I will eventually share 20 of these baseball iterations, but in this first post I’m only going to share a few.
Game 1: Baseball by yourself (great title huh?) – This game was introduced to me by an older friend I had at the time. Luckily, we kept stats with these games on paper and my dad found a folder with all these stats in a box at his house several years ago and the lineups used date back to the 1980 or 1981 season, so I know this was one of the first baseball games I did (I was 5-6 years old). I would get the newspaper with box scores in it and write the lineups from the game I was going to re-create on a piece of paper. I would take the piece of paper with the lineups outside and set it on an electrical box at the edge of our property and would use a rock to keep it from blowing away. I would take a tennis ball and a wiffle ball bat and go through the lineups and the game. I would throw the ball up in the air and hit it myself. If the hit ball went past a certain point in the yard in the air it was a single, if it bounced once and hit the house it was a double, if it hit the house in the air it was a triple and if it went on the roof in the air it was a home run. I would keep the stats on that piece of paper and would play a 10 game schedule for each team and then a playoff and world series. It was a blast and kept me busy when other friends couldn’t play. The thing I remember the most is that I started out in the middle of the backyard and by the time I was 12-13 I was using half of the neighbor’s yard behind us. I had to quit playing shortly after that because the neighbors started complaining. I also want to add that I only used one tennis ball when I played this game, so I chased the ball after each hit. I told my son this and he said, “Dad, you would have to at least get me a bucket of tennis balls”.
Game 2: Indoor Baseball – Warning!!! Parents you might not want your kids to read this one. This is exactly what the title says it is. Thankfully the house was laid out in a perfect way for this to work. We used the TV as the strike zone, plastic balls with velcro (great seems), a squeaky baby toy baseball bat and shoes for bases. This was played with two people and you had to play on your knees. Outside of that, it was intense full blown competition. One guy would pitch from about 15-20 feet away and the other guy would use the baby bat to hit. If you hit the ball, you had to run around the bases on your knees and there were throw outs. The pitcher could run to get the hit ball, pick it up and drill the baserunner with it if he wasn’t on a base. Certain areas were automatic homeruns and other items were automatic outs if hit. Our indoor baseball careers ended when my buddy hit a line drive into my mom’s face when she was talking on the phone. She never saw it coming and we all still laugh about it to this day, so it was worth it.
Game 3: Dice baseball – Again, this was exactly like it sounds. There are many versions of dice baseball on the internet now, but this was our own invention. I can’t remember what rolls created what situations, but I know we used 2 dice for our version. We also used real major league lineups and kept stats. We would play shortened MLB seasons using this game.
Game 4: Playing Card Baseball – We would combine and shuffle 3 decks of cards. Any number of any suit was an out. Any Jack was a single. Any Queen was a double. Any King was a triple. Any Ace was a HR. Any Joker was a double play unless there were already two outs or there weren’t any runners on base, in which case it was just an out. We would play 6 inning games and of course, we would play a shortened MLB season and keep stats.