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Sandlot Baseball – Those Summer Vampires

October 29, 2010

With Halloween almost upon us, here’s that “Summer Vampire” story again:

Night baseball – it was one of the perks of summer and a way of life for many of us on the sandlot. Even when the distant street lights came on from beyond the fence in right, center field and fireflies were the only things visible, we continued to take our swings and stabs at the ball in the darkness. It didn’t matter that the ball was unseeable, that your teammates were shadows around the horn, and that the only way to track a ball was by listening for it. What mattered was the adventure of playing baseball in the twilight.

Somehow, we managed to hit the ball into the blackness. That we knew because we could hear the crack of the ball against the bat. As for actually catching it, we’d hear the sound it made when it plopped into somebody’s glove. We recognized base hits by the way the ball bounced into the dirt, against a rock or off someone’s shin or shoulder.

Games usually ended in one of two ways. Players started disappearing when parents or kid sisters started calling for us to come in. Most of the calls sounded alike: “Billlll-ly,” with the long hold on the first syllable. “Kevvvvv-in,” with the voice trailing off on the second syllable. You’d hear the name about three times and, one by one, players vanished from the field.

The other sure-fire way to close out a game involved bats. And I’m not talking Adirondacks. Swooping bats were automatic game-stoppers. When they started flying, so did we – to the side of the sandlot hill where we’d huddle together with our gloves on our heads. Between our gloves’ webbing, we’d watch their nocturnal aerial shows, rolling to the side if we thought one was diving too low.

These were the times when talk turned to vampires and were-wolves. And if there was a moon out, you could bet someone would swear they saw a guy with a cape sprinting along the left field wall. More than a few times, my heart would race with fear when one of the older kids spun some cloak-and-dagger Dracula story. I’d clutch the nearest baseball so tightly that when I got home I’d actually see the ball’s stitches tattooed to the palm of my hand.

We loved to be scared back then, laughing at the spooky yarns about people who lost eyebrows or nostrils to the creepy, darting vampires. But when one suddenly nose-dived near our heads, everyone covered up. We sat there in the silence, everyone holding their breath, wondering if anyone had just lost a nose or a cowlick. Complete stillness, then a rustling and finally a little girl’s voice calling in the distance, “Richhhhh-ie.”

It was time to go home.

(Again, thanks to those who have purchased my new book, INSPIROBICS – Working Out Your Inspirations. With the holidays right around the corner, this self-help, personal enrichment book is an ideal gift for anyone interested in improving the quality of their inspirational encounters. The website link is

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  1. Your sandlot stories are oh, so familiar to me. Imagine moms today calling around the neighborhood for their kids? Do kids even leave the house anymore, except with their parents?
    Received the copy of your book yesterday. Thank you. I intend to start reading it as soon as possible.
    Cheers, Bill

  2. big o permalink

    you made this story come to life .

    did you not have the scary , unpainted , house , where the witch lived ,
    that you had to pass in order to make it safely home ?

    it turns out , upon her death , that she was nothing more than the town’s “cat lady” , and a hoarder of the highest magnitude .
    a few years later , her house was razed by the town , and a tennis court built on her property .

    i liked it better the old way .

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