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1) Tossed peas in the air and hit them with a broomstick.

2) Threw rubber balls up on the roof, stood where I couldn’t see it coming down and caught it over my shoulder. When the angle of the sun was right faced the roof shielding my eyes from the sun. 

3) Spent hours bouncing a rubber ball off the side of the garage to field grounders.

4) Rolled up socks and pitched to a mirror in my bedroom while watching my mechanics.

5) More than anything whether it was at the field playing baseball, in the backyard playing whiffle ball or in the driveway playing cupball** we played and played and played.

We didn’t worry about bat size and weight. We only cared someone had a bat that wasn’t broken. If not, it’s why screws and duct tape was invented. Metal bats? What are those?

** Bathroom Dixie cup stuffed with newspaper. We fired them from about twenty-five feet to strike zone squares on the garage. 


** The dream is free. Work ethic sold separately. **

Last edited by RJM
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Some of those drills took some thought, RJM.

I started playing ball in Belgium. Belgium has trees so my dad hung a Michelin bicycle tire from a tree and I threw the one baseball we had through the tire.  Then I lost the ball.  Option became tennis balls which Belgium also has.   Also, like RJM and probably everyone else who picked up a mitt, I did the wall drill, over and over and over.  I can still remember the sound. Belgium has walls but the ball bouncing off the wall sounds different there. They sound like a snooty French waiter.

the key in my opinion...."we played and played and played" Jeez remember playing till we fought and then were to tired to fight so we played some more! Right up to about 7th grade when i got a nice bike and was allowed to ride to the community pool, still played a lot but it was hard to compete with girls in bathing suits!! 

I will never forget my old Johnny Bench batter up, my dad poured an old tire full of concrete and i hit for hours on that damn thing. It was baseballs version of tether ball I guess. 

Smokem - Ball Four was a classic, good call, right up there with Boys of Summer and the Umpire Strikes back.


Underground Baseball : Johnny Bench Batter-Up

Last edited by old_school

I forgot to mention that after reading Jim Bouton's Ball Four during the summer before my 9th grade year, I practiced swearing like a major leaguer. A lot.

If that had mattered as much as hitting, I'd be in the Hall of Fame.

You and I weren't the only ones.  Everybody on my Pony League field was swearing like a major leaguer because of Ball Four.   I probably took it a little too far as I was known as a chatty-foul mouthed catcher back in my day.   My verbal creativity would be unappreciated on a baseball diamond today.   Everybody loved Ball Four  back in the mid-70s.   There were a lot of new words to use and put into practice.  

Last edited by fenwaysouth

Oh wow, nice topic. 

None of what we did was done with the specific intention to improve.  It was just to play.  For sure, agree with "played and played and played".  Aside from all the structured leagues games, the friend gang went to the ballpark almost daily in the summer.  Didn't matter how many, we would make up some version of the game that fit.  I remember the outfield along the LF lines were naturally "fenced" by the woods.  It was special to hit into the woods and well worth the search for the lost ball.  Only so many balls at our disposal.

Aside from at the field...  (when alone) the house had a brick wall beyond the driveway with just enough grass area and slope.  Strike zone and specific pitch locations were defined by different shades of brick color.  I pitched for hours... was usually Steve Carlton but mixed it up from time to time.  (with small groups) we had a fairly long driveway and big yard.  Oversize wood bat screwed and taped along with a slightly under-inflated volleyball made for a great game, pretty much stick ball on steroids.  Best friend had a perfect wiffle ball field back yard with rules pertaining to hitting various parts of the house/roof.  During the winter, little brother and I had a well-defined basement game with badminton racquets and a soft foam nerf ball.  We developed the full array of pitches.  We would usually pick from the 70's teams - Pirates, Reds, with all of their unique and quirky batting stances and swings - copied someone different with each AB.  Learned to switch hit that way. 

Funny thing.  Dads in that era were rarely part of the equation with sports.  We created all the games on our own and worked through disputes and challenges that way too.  Hard working dads were completely oblivious to what we did for play on a daily basis.  

Last edited by cabbagedad

The good old days. wiffle ball was huge in my neighborhood. The powerlines that ran through my backyard was the outfield wall. Over the highest one was a homerun. The crazy thing was the clothes line on the third base side. If you forgot to duck running to third base, the clothes line would remind you. The hanging tire in the back yard doubled as a hitting tool and then throwing through the hole. We were very creative on different games  throwing the tire. Throwing into a coffee can put on a chair.

On behalf of both Wood parents: Home plate the rose bush at the porch. First base the tomato plants, second base the pine tree and third base the worn out patch of dirt next to the fence. Wiffle ball and kickball for hitting and baserunning. Race you to the pole = 60 training. Wrestling with your neighbor or cousin = strength and conditioning. Hitting rocks into the creek with a stick = hand eye coordination. Playing whatever sport was in season (plus a healthy dose of dodge ball with the hard yellow balls) = agility training. 

Also, a game we made up called balls and strikes with tennis balls and a tree branch.  

Also, playing on whatever team in whatever position was in our home town and not changing teams chasing a spot at SS. 

Last edited by PTWood

I could write on this all day. 

  • Played at Lunker Lake.  We had this area that was mostly sewer BUT there was this area large enough for a ball diamond.  The kids would show up between 9 and 10 in the morning and we would play until noon.  At noon, we took a break then, if enough could, we start again at 1.  We would flip teams around all of the time trying to make them fair.  I had some great times out there.  I think it is amazing that the kids that showed up there never seemed to be the kids getting arrested.  
  • Blair School - We had this school that had the best brick wall in HISTORY.  No windows!   We made a strike zone on the wall and the custodians helped us do it.  LOL  No one ever knew.  It was neatly done and the Principal let it go.  We would then play games with a corkball and corkball bat.  I still remember getting drilled a couple of times with that small ball.  If no one showed up, a few of us would throw balls off of the wall and pretend we were Brooks Robinson.  Yes, even in Cardinal country Brooks set the tone for fielding back then.  
  • Error - My brother and I created a game we called, "error."  We would set up two bases.  I would pretend I was the 1st baseman and throw ground balls to my brother but as hard as I could throw throw them.  He had to field them cleanly and make a good throw to 1st.  If he made a bad throw or didn't field the ball, he got an error.  If I dropped a good throw at 1st, I got an error.  After 3 outs, I threw the ball to him and he was the 1st baseman and I was the fielder.  We played 7 inning games and they got heated.  
  • Indian Ball.  I think everyone back in the day played Indian Ball.  My brother was tremendous at this since he was so small and could just kill the ball.  
  • Pitching - We were both pitchers so we made a mound and a rough backstop of old thrown away rugs.  As mad as we would get at each other playing error, we were each other's biggest fan while serving as the catcher for each other.  
  • The Fiberglass shed - I have often told the story that I was cut in HS ball my freshman and sophomore years even though I was one of the best, if not the best players in school.  I had this reputation for getting into fights so the coaching staff would not keep me on the team.  I love this game so much.  My dad built a fiberglass shed on the back of our junky house.  It was the green fiberglass that used to be used as skirting for house trailers.  I hit in that shed every day hitting socks that were taped up with electrical tape.  I was determined to be so good I could not be cut.  I made the team my junior year and led the team in hitting both my junior and senior years.  I was also all everything.  I have told my dad before that he will never know how much that shed changed my life.  Oh, the neighbors hated it.  I didn't have a net so I just hit into that fiberglass.  It made a lot of noise.  LOL

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