Anthony & The Mick: Boys Of Summers Past

Mantle - The Last Boy
Mantle – The Last Boy

It is 1962. The perfect shape of a baseball takes flight against the backdrop of a pale summer sky. As the ball tumbles from the air into a vast evergreen of grass, a boy can’t help but chase and hunt it down.

The boy, slight of stature and quick afoot, snares the elusive ball and makes a difficult catch look easy. The joy on his face reflects his capture, and he turns and pivots. With the smile never leaving him, he throws a strike to another boy, a boy waiting with his glove set against the background hues of blue and green.

The grass they run in is lush, the summer air thick with pollen and humidity. They run everywhere, for the expanse of land surrounding this family farm seems never ending. The boys play hard, as they keep on running.

It is 1962. The race to space is becoming cool, and the Cold War is heating up. Missiles in Cuba threaten the world, and Marilyn’s brief life comes to an end. The Yankees win the World Series again, and Mickey Mantle remains a god to New York baseball fans.

The end of the innocence has not arrived, but the world is changing in a profound way. It is 1962.

The Glove, And Inspiration

Shortly after I wrote this post about my Uncle, the cousin that I wrote the post with felt that I should have a momento that belonged to him. He stopped by my house and delivered the early 60’s baseball glove that my Uncle used to play games of “catch”.

The glove is a Bobby Richardson model, but emblazoned with my Uncle’s signature of “Mikey” Mantle. My Uncle wasn’t a great reader or speller, which didn’t matter to those who loved him. He had a giant personality, a great sense of humor, could run like the wind, hit and catch a baseball with the best of them, and throw a punch like a well trained middleweight.

Mickey Mantle was his favorite player, regardless of how he spelled the name. In an era when worship of a baseball player wasn’t a futile and wasted undertaking, Mickey was everyone’s favorite athlete. Mantle had his vices, and was a flawed human being, like the rest of us. But that didn’t stop a generation of boys from emulating him and his formidable skills.

My cousin stated it would have been great if I was here, to share their experience. In 1962, I was just a twinkle in my Dad’s eye. But, I can imagine the fun and games as they were. To look up at the galaxy of stars, exploring space, to play baseball in the blistering sun, and idolize a man who played a game. When it was still worth your time to do so.

In my world, it’s not 1962. That year is long gone. It is an unusually warm September night more than 50 years later. The calendar reads autumn, but summer is rising in its attempt at a last gasp before it ends for good. As I write this, a mediocre Yankee team is being ousted from playoff contention.

There are no more heroes or idols. Just flawed men and women that can’t run or hide from around the clock news or social media.

In 1962, America’s innocence will begin to come to a close. Everything will soon change. But the boys will play. They will catch, they will hit, they will run. Spirits will soar.

Now, a baseball still arcs into the sky, traveling through the same bright blue backdrop as of years ago. A ball lands once again into Anthony’s glove, but it’s my son that wears it. The glove still makes a sweet sound of smacking leather, ready for its new owner to take into future decades of making memories.

Memories of summer. Where boys play forever and loved ones and heroes never grow old.

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3 thoughts on “Anthony & The Mick: Boys Of Summers Past

  1. Hey Joe,

    Interesting that one of my favorite shows, Mad Men follows this arc … from the relative innocence of the very early 60s to the craziness that defined that decade at its end.

    Mantle was flawed, yes, but I wonder what he would think of that egomaniac, Pay-Rod 😉

    Love the post, and baseball is a wonderful backdrop for American life, no matter the era.

    You think the Yanks are bad … um, we have the Mariners.

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