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KiDS Volume 39 | Number 42 A C T WEDNESDAY, APRIL 23, 2014 I ONE SUMMER FULLY SPENT ON THE SANDLOT HOME RUNS ON THE HOME FIELD BY JEFF CORDES E X PR E S S STA F F W R ITE R One copy free | All others 50¢ r e m m u s of Express V I SUMMER T Y P L is like a pot at the end of the rainbow when you’re a certain age. It’s something you enter with a sense of wonder and feeling of freedom. You come out on the other side a little different, newer, wiser, hopefully better. In this edition of the Idaho Mountain Express, there is a long list of incredible camps and programs describing the myriad of possibilities to create a template for summer. What isn’t discussed much in these pages is that empty place and unfilled space that a summer day can supply. It’s a place where a child wanders, often supervised by only his peers. It’s a place where learning is imprinted and a lifetime of memories can be made. All you need is the trust of your parents, a little creativity and your friends. My best modern-day observation of that kind of freedom is the local skate park. There, kids of all ages push each other and test their boundaries each day. Traffic busily rolls past but the focus of the kids is completely on the ramps, turns, jumps and each other. You find out who you are. For me, it was baseball. Never can I forget a summer fully spent on the sandlot. We were there, virtually every day except weekends, from morning to dinner, kicking up dirt on the dusty baseball diamond. No grown-ups in sight. Cellphones yet to be invented. No pressing matters. Television in its infancy. Mail delivered only by mail carriers, not by computers. Drive-in movies the hot ticket. Needing to work still a couple of years off. We brought banged up bats and a series of baseballs bat- A IDAHO MOUNTAIN ® AND GUIDE N N E R tered into yarn. Gloves filled with clouds of dirt. Occasionally, a glimpse of three or four girls of our age walking by, shoulder to shoulder, glancing our way and giggling as one. We couldn’t have cared less. We were 11-year-old boys. It was the summer of 1961, when teammates Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris made their memorable summer-long assault on Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season. There were four of us every day, exceptions made for only sickness or family responsibilities. First order of business was securing the field itself, as if anyone else really wanted sole possession of the dirt infield and bumpy grass outfield, as we did. Gloves wrapped on our bicycle handlebars, where bats were carried somewhat precariously, we pedaled onto the field. We left our homes at different times, but seemed to arrive at the same time. We dismounted at the backstop. One of us spat on home plate for possession. We set up shop. In the year of Mantle and Maris, we had one objective—hitting home runs over a fence in left field that emptied onto a fairly heavily traveled street. Beyond the street, further back, was the schoolhouse itself—ultimately unreachable for everyone including Big Al, our ultimate home run stud. Big Al turned out to be our only home run threat. We all tried. One time I hit the fence on a bounce. But nobody really thought it had a chance. Sam, our natural athlete, drilled the fence on the fly several times and once or twice homered with a favorable breeze. Dusty, our expert at dirty work, discarded his ambitions early See SUMMER, Page S23

Idaho Mountain Express Kids Special Section

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