If someone were to ask me "What was your mother's favorite pastime?" the first thing that comes to mind is Baseball. She was an avid fan of most sports, but she really loved baseball. This love of baseball was passed to her from her father and was one of her happy memories she shared with me.
My family loved the Los Angeles Dodger's; they were our hometown team and the baseball stadium was close enough for a day trip. It was a great family adventure to go to a game at Dodger Stadium; the popcorn and the hotdogs (pickles, onions, mustard and ketuchp please), the announcers and the crowd; I can still remember the rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". Cheering when Maury Wills stole another base and when Sandy Koufax threw another strikeout and groaning when Frank Howard struck out, again!
My mom shared with me her memories of her father, Albert Wise and his love of baseball. The stories weren't detailed, just that she had happy memories of the two of them going to ball games when she was growing up. I image the games were smaller, country affairs between minor league teams; with the smell of popcorn and cotton candy and the sound of good natured heckling from the fans. But sometimes, on a special occasion; a birthday maybe, they might have gone to Chicago to see the big leagues. What a thrill that would have been for both of them.
My grandfather also played baseball. I don't know what position but because of his height I imagine he might have played first base. He would have had a great reach!!!!
This first picture is in Riverton, Iowa. Both my grandfather, Albert and his brother Fred are on this team. I think this is about 1908 or 1909. Albert would have been about 17 years old
This is a team from Nodaway, Iowa, Albert's hometown.
Here is Albert tagging someone out.
There was a Baseball minor league known as the Three-I's, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois League, and this league had a team called the Davenport Blue Sox. These next two pictures show Albert with a team known as the Blue Sox. See it on the uniforms? I don't know if they are in fact from this minor league, but I suppose it is possible. Wouldn't that be wonderful?? These photos are not dated, but Albert looks older than the other photos. I would say maybe 1916, making him 24 years old; this would make it right before Albert's enlistment in the US Army in 1917.
My grandfather was about 6'5" tall so it's easy to pick him out in pictures. He is always the tallest one.
I like to think of my grandfather as a young man, not the invalid I remember. He suffered from Rhuematoid Arthritis from mid life and later from Parkinson's Disease. Sharing these pictures and imagining him doing something he loved helps make him more real for me.
I have taken a blowup of the gloves from one of the pictures. Even though I don't have it physically in my home, a picture is almost as good. Can you imagine playing with one of these? The big round one is the catcher's glove, the other to the right is a regular fielders glove.
Baseball has always been America's favorite pastime, especially in those early days when it was so much more personal.