Monday, September 3, 2012

The Catch of the Day on Life Support

With the 2012 summer season effectively in the dustbin of history, I can add a further nail into the “having a catch in the backyard” coffin. Once upon a time in this neck of the woods—the Northwest Bronx—baseball mitts rested in countless front hallways and were called into action regularly during the spring, summer, and autumnal months. Playing largely on concrete, though, our gloves’ neat leatherwork and lacing took a beating, eventually beyond repair.

When we utilized bona fide baseballs on fields that weren’t green, their stitches and coverings took a licking. It wasn’t uncommon to see us playing with hardballs wrapped in black electrical tape to extend their lives. Eventually, the rubber hardball came along, which supplied us with the ideal orb to have a catch and play games of “errors” and “pitcher and catcher” in our concrete backyards. Sure, the concrete is still there today—albeit a cheesier, monochrome variety—but very few kids are having catches atop it.

Actually, outside of seeing today’s youth staring into iPhones on the mean streets, I didn’t notice much else going on throughout this urban summer. Walking about while simultaneously staring into these technological gizmos paints a rather depressing picture to me. It conjures up images of tacky horror films from yesteryear with human automatons bloodlessly roaming the highways and byways. If we were becoming a smarter and more interesting people, perhaps a winning case could made for walking around while texting, tweeting, and talking on the cell—and not looking where one is going—but that ain't exactly happening.

So, the backyard catch is no longer the catch of the day. And on life support, too, in the big city—it should be noted—are clothes hanging out on clotheslines. Well…longstanding as this old tradition may be, its demise just might not be a bad thing. Progress…yes...let's embrace it.

(Photo from the personal collection of Nicholas Nigro)

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