Feel for the Game A Master's Memoir

Feel for the Game A Master's Memoir
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  • ISBN-13: 9780767906227
  • ISBN: 0767906225
  • Publisher: Broadway Books


Crenshaw, Ben, Hauser, Melanie


1. AUSTIN ROOTS best austin traditions: Cisco's Bakery for breakfast; The Hoffbrau Dirty Martin's; Lion's Municipal Golf Course; Barton Springs; UT Football; Bert's Barbeque; Jake's (sadly, no more); Butler Park Pitch & Putt . When you're a kid, what do you need? A swimming pool. A backstop for baseball. A field big enough to get a football game going. A dirt road to ride bikes down. A front yard with trees laid out perfectly to serve as bases for the baseball game always underway. A mulberry tree whose branches provided the perfect escape for two brothers on a lazy Texas afternoon. My brother Charlie and I used to climb that tree in our backyard at the end of the day and eat mulberries 'til our fingers turned purple. There was something wonderful about the taste, which changed with the seasons, and we always enjoyed the underlying certainty that one of us would get so carried away we'd pop one into our mouth before inspecting it for worms. It made for a lot of laughs and stomachaches during those years. When you're six or seven there's no end to the fun you can have on a tree-lined Leave It To Beaver street like the one we grew up on in the Tarrytown area of West Austin. Rows of well-kept homes, trimmed hedges, and immaculate yards lined Bridle Path, where we lived in a cozy two-story home. The sprawling oaks in everyone's yard provided shade on a hot afternoon, and we even had a vacant lot nearby, the perfect place to build two forts about fifty yards apart and have all-world dirt-clod wars with your best friends. I can still feel the sting of those clods. Texas dirt has so much clay in it that dirtballs make unbelievable missiles. There was nothing we didn't have back then, when kids didn't have a care in the world. All around us, everywhere we looked, there was something to do, something to keep us interested and challenged and, in my parents view I suppose, occupied. Our neighborhood was filled with warmth, love, and fun. And, at our house, some kind of brotherly competition. Charlie was just fifteen months older than me, so we grew up competing in everything. We shared a bedroom and a never-ending supply of teammates and friends, but he always seemed to be a head taller and a stride faster than me. So everything I got I had to earn. Like that old catcher's mitt. I must have been six when I decided that my future was behind the plate. My dad had been a star catcher at Baylor, and Charlie was already one of the best Little League pitchers for his age in West Austin. So when I saw the perfect catche's mitt in a catalog, I was convinced that the "hole" or pocket in the glove would catch the ball by itself. I was just eaten up with the thought of that mitt and kept pestering my dad for it, crawling up in his lap every night to show him a picture of it. He would always nod, but never say yes. This went on for maybe two whole years until, one day, dad said if I could learn to catch Charlie, he'd get me that mitt. I begged Charlie unmercifully for three weeks--every day after school--until he gave in. Then, well, we wore out the lawn. We found a perfect area, marked off the distance between the mound and home plate, and laid down towels that pretty well killed all the grass underneath and left us with the start of our front-yard diamond. Then Charlie started firing at me. He threw balls at me into the dirt, over my head--anything but a strike. He had to make it tough on me and that little bitty glove I had that couldn't catch a thing--that's just what a big brother does to irritate you and leave a few bruises while he's at it. After a few months I started catching him, so I called dad over one night when he came home. Charlie made it tough, but I caught every pitch he threw. And Dad? He went down to Rooster Andrews Sporting Goods and bought my mitt. Over the years we tore up the lawn in the front yard with all of our games. No hedge or flowerCrenshaw, Ben is the author of 'Feel for the Game A Master's Memoir' with ISBN 9780767906227 and ISBN 0767906225.

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