Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pitcher and Catcher RIP

Among the countless outdoor activities I engaged in while growing up in the Bronx was a simple game called “Pitcher and Catcher.” Two people played it, as it were, with one acting as a pitcher and the other as both a catcher and balls-and-strikes-calling umpire. Three strikes and you were out...and three outs meant it was time for the pitcher and catcher to swap jobs.

I can honestly say I don’t see any contemporary youths playing “Pitcher and Catcher” in the old neighborhood, or much else for that matter. And it’s summertime! What a dramatic change in the old order of things. I do see kids staring into their iPhones, texting, and yakking on their cells—all the time as a matter of fact. I’m left to conclude they spend the preponderance of their time indoors during the dog days of summer, which is sad.

As a kid in the colorful 1970s, the great outdoors is where I was expected to be—as much as it was physically and meteorologically possible. Even a party of two knew how to entertain themselves. I had countless catches with my brothers through the years in our concrete communal backyard. “Want to go out and have a catch?” was a regularly posed query. Virtually every teenage male—and plenty of females, too—owned a baseball glove, assorted balls, and a bat or two.

Chancing upon a couple of kids having a catch in the old neighborhood is unlikely these days. Whatever became of those urban summers when people—young and old alike—ventured outside for the sport of it? To play, to socialize, or to play and socialize. There are many dark sides to advancing technologies, but none more so than its anti-social foundation—one that underscores interaction on Facebook, Twitter, and text messaging over in-the-flesh human contact, like in the game we called “Pitcher and Catcher,” or just that catch in the backyard.

(Photo from the personal collection of Nicholas Nigro)

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