Did anybody else grow up with “ghost on first?” It’s when you’re playing front yard baseball and you don’t have enough neighborhood kids or siblings because whoever got on first base is now up again…so you need a ghost to represent the runner on base. We used our stone walkway as the bases, and second base was just beyond the gravel driveway…so we slid through little stones in the driveway only to slam our ankles into a rock for a base. Good times! We had a small hillside that ran the length of our “outfield” in our front yard, so we called that the green wall, aka Fenway Park. If you hit it over the green wall it was a home run, and foul balls that went behind us into the poison ivy lined creek were often abandoned because we were sick of slathering on that pink calamine lotion on our unbearably itchy, full poison ivy outbreak skin all the time. True baseball coaches could throw the ball up in the air to themselves and hit it directly to you in the outfield…all you had to do was open your glove. My Dad could do that, and he said his Dad was super precise at it. I tried to do it, but I was not quite as accurate….just ask my parents who had to replace some windows a time or two hundred. Some games instead of tagging someone out, you could whip the tennis ball that was used for a baseball at them as they ran the bases, and if it clipped them, they were out. If you tripped them with the ball and they wiped out, well that was just an added bonus. Back in the 70’s we used Fig Newtons with the brown, strange looking filling as pretend chew, especially the pitcher. You didn’t actually spit it out because it was expensive and yummy…plus that would be disgusting, so you just left it between your cheek and gums to intimidate your opponent. I’m sure we looked like real bad apples! The knats were always really annoying in the summer for some reason and we learned that those bitey bugs always went to the highest point of a person, so we stood in the outfield with our baseball gloves high above our heads for hours while we played. I’m sure our overly scented Miss Breck hairspray in the 80’s for our poofy feathered hair attracted a biblical proportion of gnats during games. There were no cell phones back then and you didn’t dare call your neighbor’s landline and bug your friend’s parents, so the job my little brother and I had was to hop on our bikes and ride up hill both ways to get the neighbors to come play so that we had more players. You know you had a great childhood back in the day if your yard was transformed into a sports arena, and you got to play with a “ghosty on first” and Fig Newtons!
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