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Reminiscing while exercising

While I was out on my daily walk recently pondering how competitive the Blair Regional YMCA 2-mile walks will be after so many people have picked up the hobby during the corona-virus pandemic, I saw a kid at a baseball field.

He had just one ball and a bat. During my circle around the outside of the field, he hit the ball, walked out to collect it and returned to the plate to hit it again four times.

It made me think of some of the things I used to do to pass the time when I was growing up in Tyrone in between games.

The first one I’ll write about does require two people, but fortunately, I had a younger brother growing up that was usually available.

Wiffle Ball is fun, and if you actually use a plastic ball with holes in it, the ball can’t cause that much damage when you inevitably hit it into the neighbor’s yard or off a passing car. But it is usually tough to play with just two people, and normally that would lead to a lot of running and ghost runners.

The way my brother and I played, we drew a line about 20 feet from home plate that the batted ball had to cross before it could be considered a hit. Anything off the garage on the left side of the field or the porch on the right side of the field was a foul ball and an out. A swing and a miss, a foul tip or a ball that didn’t go 20 feet was also an out.

Any ball that made it past the pitcher’s mound and landed safely in the grass before the fence was a single, but the pitcher, who in this case is the only fielder, can try to catch any fly ball or stop a ground ball before it gets past them. That also resulted in an out.

If a ball hit the fence, it was a double and all runners advanced two bases. We had a chain-link fence and directly behind it was a taller wooden fence, and if the ball went in between those fences, it was a triple. Obviously, anything over the fence was a home run.

Playing it this way meant never having to run bases, and each inning you would only get two outs to help make up for the fact it was easier to get a single on bad contact without any fielders.

Those games kept us entertained for hours until we could get a few of our friends to come over and play a more traditional game.

Whenever my brother wasn’t around, I liked to play a game that just involved a concrete slab in my parents’ backyard, a tennis ball and the roof.

I’d throw the tennis ball to the top of our house and wait for it to come back down. Based off some of the angles and spouting it could hit off, it never quite came down the same way or in the same spot.

For this game, I just had two made up teams in my head and each got three outs per half inning. If the ball bounced on the cement before I caught it, it was a single. If it bounced on the cement and into the grass, it was a double and if it landed in the grass without me catching it on the fly, it was a home run. Of course, any ball I caught was an out.

And if the ball was caught in the spout? Well, it was game over and time to hope I could figure a way to get the ball out before it caused any damage.

There were some other, more simple games, like making basketball shots from each corner of our concrete slab in addition to making one from the middle consecutively, kicking field goals between the two trees in the front yard and making a golf hole and using plastic golf balls in the same yard.

I’m sure everyone is coming up with their own games to pass the time during quarantine. If you have unique ones that you would like to share, let us know. And feel free to adopt and adapt any of mine, and hopefully you have a brother, sister or parent willing to join in!

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com. Follow him on Twitter @BoytimMichael

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