Everywhere I went Saturday, people were smiling. And these weren’t just little smiles. They were all-out grins. Watermelon-slice smiles. Some would have put a jack-o-lantern to shame.
I first stopped at Schneider Field in St. Joseph to take pictures and interview old-timers who had shown up for a reunion. Some of these guys in their 70s looked like little children on the first day of summer vacation.
They were giggling, slapping each other on the back and jumping around like barefoot youngsters on a scorching beach. They were downright guffawing. It was fun to see.
The main reason for the jocularity is these guys were together with old friends and reminiscing about old times – times when they used to put on a baseball uniform many years ago and play a kid’s game. Baseball will bring out the boy in the man, it seems.
The stories they told were amusing. One involved then-shortstop Tommy Krebsbach, who was fortunate enough to play baseball in the New York Yankee minor league system. Krebsbach played old-school baseball. Tough-nose baseball. So when he was rounding third and headed for home (like a brown-eyed handsome man), he couldn’t help but notice the opposing catcher sitting on home plate. Blocking it. Daring Tommy to score.
Well, score he did, feet first according to the story, splitting the opposing catcher’s pants from crotch to knee. Needless to say, Tommy said, that catcher never sat on home plate again.
Dang, he nearly didn’t sit on anything again.
And the hoots and hollers followed.
Then I drove just a few miles down the road to do a story on the Fishing Without Boundaries event held at Albie and Kathy Kraemer’s lake home. There, 28 special-needs folks were fishing with the help of 50 volunteers.
Again, the smiles were endless. The anglers were grinning whether they were catching fish or not. And volunteers were smiling just watching the anglers smile. Like a baseball field, a Minnesota lake in the summer will take away any cares, worries or problems you might have. You sometimes hear big-league baseball players say when they have a tragedy to deal with the ball field is a safe haven for them.
Back to Big Fish Lake. When anglers did latch onto a fish, no matter what the size, well, you would have sworn Jaws was being pulled from the deep blue waters. People cheered and clapped and hollered their congratulations. The angler’s smile just got bigger and bigger until you thought it was going to swallow the boat he or she was in.
Most of the fish that were caught were so small they had to be thrown back. But that didn’t keep the participants from breaking out in excitement each time their bobbers went down.
Yes, Saturday was a great day. I can’t stop smiling just thinking about it.