My brother and me grew up in a condo complex with a common area. It was largely families so in that sense it was great but alongside the families there were a lot or retirees who insisted on silence. That wasn’t so great especially when there were enough other kids around to play team style sports with.
Mostly we played baseball, some football but mostly baseball. The common area was this large field that every housing unit connected to. It was in essence a backyard that everyone shared. It wasn’t that big though, it was kind of long and skinny and not really all that long, maybe 75 yards or so. Not the best place to play baseball really. There was just to high of a chance of breaking a window.
That was my biggest fear as a kid. I imagined that a window must cost like a thousand dollars. I mean, I still don’t know how much one costs so it might really be a 1K. Who knows? Some things are meant to stay as mysteries I guess. What I did know was that a window was way out of my income bracket of zero dollars and zero cents so it was best to make sure and not bust one.
Still though we wanted to play some ball. The solution? The Rag Ball. Are you guys familiar with Rag Balls? They are just like baseballs except that they are made out of fabric and have soft cotton innards. Much like the baseballs they used during baseball’s Dead Ball Era. A period that was known for low scoring games and a lack of power hitting. See, the soft-ish ball can’t fly as far as a full on hard as a rock hardball.
Rag Balls were great for the field that we played in. I mean, try as you might there was just no way to hit the ball more than 100 feet or so and to do that you had to be Home run Baker himself. Who’s that? Only the top power hitter of the dead ball era. I think he hit something like 90 dingers his whole life, a whopping total at the time.
Not having all the money in the world we had to nurse the Rag Ball as long as possible even though they usually wound up shaped like potatoes after a week or so under the onslaught of my Frank baker like power. (I’m kidding, I’m more of a Stuffy Mcinnis type hitter myself.) That’s when it got fun though because due to the odd shape of the battered ball fly balls could head in any direction and charging a grounder was like taking your life in your hands. It could bounce ANYWHERE.
Still though it was totally fun, I was reminded of the old Rag Ball days when I was lucky enough to walk through the old neighborhood recently on a day off. I spent a few minutes in the commons with my dog and the two of us even poked around in the bushes in hopes of finding an old Rag Ball in there. Of course we had no luck but we definitely wouldn’t have found one if we didn’t look.
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