SIDELINE OBSERVATIONS: Take me out to the ball game

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 09:17 AM.

I'm a softy when it comes to little kids and baseball.

Youth league sports can be difficult to cover, but I still get a kick from occasionally stopping and watching boys and girls as they experience the great game of baseball for the first time.

I played my first organized baseball 48 years ago in a Memphis, Tenn., church league. The next year, my family was in Gulf Breeze, where I played another five years of youth league ball before my talent limits caught up with me.

To say I wasn't much of a baseball player would be an understatement. If there was some way to go back and check my old stats, I'd dare say I didn't hit my weight at the time, which, for the record, was around 70 or 75 pounds.

There was no minor league baseball in Pensacola when I was a kid. And Gulf Breeze didn't have a high school until my seventh-grade year, so youth baseball and the Saturday Game of the Week were links to the game I loved.

When Gulf Breeze High was formed in the fall of 1970 and fielded the school's first baseball team in the spring of 1971, I quickly became one of the team's biggest fans.

Those early Dolphin teams played all home, day games just a quick five-minute bike ride from my house and I seldom missed a game.

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