A hot, sunny, summer day in the old neighborhood usually meant that it was time to go round up the ol' gang of bubblegum chewin', baseball card tradin' buddies of yours, and head out to the nearest ball field in your hometown for a sweet escape from reality.
Those days seem like a thing of the past.
I can drive by my old neighborhood anytime of day in the summer and look at an empty ball field. I know that this neighborhood is filled with kids. Where are they?
Video games, iPods, and computers could be a part of the finger pointing, but they're not entirely to blame. Being overweight and not exercising seems to be on the rise also.
What I really notice is that kids have so many options nowadays.
Especially if both parents are working. When I was a kid, we breathed baseball. Mom was a housewife, and I can tell you that on a nice day, you weren't layin around the house. You were outside. At least until lunchtime or until the street lights came on.
The truth is we wanted to be outside. "Let's get Tommy, he's got an extra mitt!"
And Tommy had a pool for after the game. Bonus.
I know that after I got older, I would get tired of playing baseball in the summer, mainly because I was playing organized ball at school. It turned into a chore. Then it turned into a dream of yesterday.
Where are the sandlotters like when I was a kid? And as for bubblegum cards, most kids can't afford them them anymore, and most of them don't come with that gnarly gum that splintered into a thousand pieces of sugary bliss and tasted too damn good to be true anyway.
It truly is a different era. I would put a Whitey Ford or a Tom Tresh in the spokes of my bike cause everybody hated them and you couldn't give them away much less trade for an Al Kaline or a Bill Freehan card.
I didn't put them in a binder to sell off later on eBay when the market was right.