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Memories Hold As The Years Pass

Being an adult is great isn't it? We are lawyers, doctors and teachers. We work hard and receive compensation for our efforts. Our "disposable income" is large enough that we can pretty much buy whatever makes us happy. We go to Nationals games at RFK wearing our $30 hats and $150 replica jerseys. When we play ball with our sons in the back yard, we use brand new $10 baseballs. When it gets scuffed or dented, we throw it into a bucket and open a new one. Money buys many things. It's not like when we were thirteen.

When we were thirteen, we had to make a single baseball last the summer. Oh, it had that polished, pristine look when we began, but by the time summer was over, it was barely, if at all, being held together with wishes and a few strands of Mom's sewing thread.

My ball was purchased at Sampson's Sporting Goods in the 7-corners shopping center. It began its life on the tennis courts of the Barcroft Apartments. It's first scuff came when my friend Eggy bounced the ball on the asphalt of the tennis court. It was there that I broke the first window of the summer. At 13, I had grown much stronger over the winter. Rolando threw me an inside pitch, and I hit a towering shot beyond the tennis courts and through a 4th floor sliding glass window. We all stood there for just a moment in amazement before we scattered to safety. The next day, the owner of the broken window, either in anger or understanding, through the ball back down, and I was reunited with it the following afternoon.

The ball went with me to Lake Fairfax, where it landed in the water only once. It went to RFK Stadium six times that summer, getting autographed by Brant Alyea. Two weeks later, the mud caused by the summer rains had obscured the signature forever. I spent a few days at Virginia Beach, and few more at Ocean City. If you hit the ball hard enough, sand would cover you before the ball would fly towards its destination.

Mostly, the ball spent most of its time at the Little League fields across from JEB Stuart High School. We would try to hit the ball hard enough to clear both outfield fences and reach the opposite field. Only Kevin was able to do that; I never came close. It visited a few friends, who promised me that it would be returned. It always was.

By the time the summer was over, and school was in session, the ball found its way to the back of my sock drawer, to slumber and dream of its summer spendor. By the time the next spring rolled around, I would pull out the drawer to retrieve it, and would find the condition too poor to use. The cycle began anew. Another ball was purchased, and another summer began.

One ball. A million memories. You can't beat that.
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