I was looking at a photo on the bookcase in our house this week that my wife had framed some time back. Not sure when we retrieved it from my parents’ house.
It was sometime after either dad died in 1988 or my mother’s passing in 2013.
It’s a photo of our grade school baseball team at Christ The King School in Oklahoma City. The team was comprised of seventh and eighth graders and we won the Oklahoma City Catholic Grade School Championship that year.
I was a seventh grader.
There are 18 kids in the photo along with my dad who was the coach and one of the other kids’ dad who was the assistant coach that year.
That kid’s name was Frankie Dolf and his dad was our family dentist.
His dad was also the basketball coach for our teams from the fifth through the eighth grade and my dad was the assistant from the sixth through the eighth grade.
Both dad and Frankie’s dad were volunteer coaches, of course.
Our team went on to play a Catholic grade school in Tulsa. It was either Holland Hall or Cascia Hall and they defeated us 1-0.
Of the 18 on the team, eight or nine were eighth graders, so we had about half of our team back for my eighth grade year along with a new batch of seventh graders.
My dad and Frankie’s father didn’t coach us in baseball our eighth grade year. I don’t recall why.
Again, we won the Oklahoma City Catholic Grade School Championship that year. So, we got to play a team from Tulsa for the Catholic State Baseball title.
Since the title game had been played in Tulsa the previous year, we played it in Oklahoma City on our home diamond.
I’m pretty sure the team we were up against was Holland Hall. We won the state championship that year, defeating them 11-2, and avenging the loss from the previous year.
Even though that was 1962, there are a few things I distinctly remember.
Our pitcher for that game was a kid named Chet Long. Chet and I were good friends and he could really throw the ball hard and he had good control.
His dad was the assistant coach.
In every game we played that year except for two, I was the No. 2 hitter in our lineup.
A seventh grader named Terry O’Toole led off for us and normally I hit second after him.
But in a game against St. Phillip Neri in Midwest City, the coaches moved me to the No. 4 or cleanup spot as they call it.
And they did the same thing in the championship game. I laced a double right field, was walked and not sure of the other time I batted.
But the double I recall distinctly because at least one runner scored.
It felt really good to share with a great group of kids a state baseball title that we had worked hard to achieve.