Magog: Unguarded
Magog: Unguarded
Swarming Around... cats living with dogs... total chaos.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

In The Days Of My Youth...

I learned Thillens Stadium is closing and it makes me sad. When I was playing CYO baseball in grammar school, the big thrill of the season was the finale, played at Thillens in front of family and friends. To us, that was about as close as we would get to playing in a real stadium with real fans. All through the season we had to deal with fields in various conditions--swampy, muddy, pockmarked, strewn with rocks--but Thillens' field was neatly groomed and manicured. It lacked the six-inch dugout holes in the batter's boxes. The dirt was smooth and even for those nice Sunday bounces. And you could even hit a home run--a real home run that cleared the fence, instead of one of those gappers that just rolled endlessly.

I had the opportunity to play two games at Thillens, one in seventh grade and then one in eighth. I rememember a lot of the details. In my initial game, I didn't start as our lineup was dominated (and rightfully so) by eight graders. We had a good team that year and we were playing our arch-rivals from St. Emily's. I didn't play a lot that year, but usually got in each game. That's not to say I was a bad player, but deference was always given to the older kids. Even so, I think I hit about my weight that year and let's just say I'm not exaclty obese. Anyway, we were in a really tight game, tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the 7th (the final inning) and I was called on to pinch hit. Amazingly, I managed to roll a grounder that eluded both the first and second basemen. The right fielder, with tremendous respect to my colossal opposite field power, nearly threw me out but I beat the play. I was forced out at second but the player on first ultimately came around and scored the winning run, so I've always prided myself on starting our winning rally. Heh.

In stark contrast, in eighth grade I was one of the team leaders. I think I batted something ridiculous like .670 that season. Sadly, our team pretty much stunk that year but we did get to play the finale against St. Emily's at Thillens. This time our opponents were far superior and the game was never close. Despite my hefty season average, I struck out three times. The only upside is that I fouled off a bundle of pitches before doing so each time. Not really what you want out of your #3 hitter. Still a gas to play there.

I did have one more chance to play at Thillens as an adult when my former company took on the Queen And Her Court in a charity softball game. It was great fun. We were thoroughly shellacked, but I got one of our three hits, a double drilled into the gap (the gap being rather huge, since the Queen played with exactly three fielders). It didn't exactly take away the sting of not having achieved personal success at the Chicago amateur's baseball shrine in my youth, but it was fun nonetheless. Oh, and there was beer too.

I'll miss Thillens. Not that I went there too often, or at all for that matter, but I'll miss that it was a cool place to have around, an idiosyncrasy nestled on the bank of the Chicago River in an otherwise unassuming residential neighborhood. Maybe with a little luck they will find a way to keep it running.

posted by the wolf | 2:00 PM
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