|Posted by Johnny Mantell on August 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM|
I've got some really good stories from my past, most of them I am heavily involved. This one is where I'm merely a spectator and was blessed to be a part of the memory!
In my youth (I know that was ages ago), Baseball lasted all summer long, a kid would play Little League Baseball until you were 12, in the Big League until you were 15. This story is from my Big League days at Chino Hills Little League. The league had just put in a new backstop and we played on a field with no outfield fence. The group of kids we played with in these days; we all grew up together, we knew the family's for many years so no one snuck up on you. You knew who could play, who couldn't, who could hit, etc. basically there were No surprises.
The Big League Division had 4 teams so you played each team 4 or 5 times. That meant there were days where a pitcher was on and the hitter was pretty smashed and you should know which people in the line up could hit. Based on who was pitching you could pick your threats out of the opposing teams line-ups.
Now after explaining all that, this story is really about my good friend and classmate Henry DeVries. His family had a diary up on the hill behind our 6 acre farm on Pomona Rincon Rd. We all stayed close by the water source; the road off Pomona Rincon Rd went by my house on the way up to Henry's house. Our other long time friend, class mate, and team mate, Robert Townzend, was pitching to me in this particular garme. Robert and I had lots of success as pitcher and catcher. On this day we were mowing them down; Not many balls even out of the infield, then Henry came up to bat!
Now Henry probably (no, he really is), one of the smartest people I grew up with. I always knew I was / am a Jock. I always knew if I needed someone with book smarts while we were in school Henry was the guy to talk with. Well, Robert and I probably thinking we were smart, had Henry at the plate. We decided to move the field in a little a process used to walk orget the next out. That alone Now told everyone there that we were way to Cocky! On the 3rd pitch towards his bat, Henry made contact and the ball went over the heads of Everybody and rolled uninpeded until it finally stopped.
Henry NOW is running the bases, not like a cat, but not quite like a piano. All of our cutoff people are in line and awaiting the ball. I'm sure Robert and I both had looks of Shock & Awe, while I know I was screaming "Home, Home". Well to finish this story, Ill say Henry and I both will never forget this next moment.... There was no play at the plate, but it was something I will never forget.
Henry rounded 3rd, ran up touching home, then Jumped up into MY arms. He had just his a Home Run!!! I'm not sure if that was his only Home Run ever but it was one that I shared with him and was very glad to do it! I will always have that memory of him being so excited and happy, jumping up and down and into my Arms - the Catcher of the Opposing Team!!!
Way to go Henry. I know you've hit many Home Runs since then!! Can't wait to see you AUG 2015 at our class reunion ~ Chino Class of '75!!
God Bless, Absolutley ~CJM