Randy Smith: Little Boys And Home Runs

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

With the start of baseball season upon us, my mind takes me back occasionally to my younger days when my love of the game allowed me to do much more than change the channel from one game to another with my remote. I actually played baseball. I was never a great athlete; not even a good one I suppose. But I was good enough to play some baseball as a youngster. I played Little League, Babe Ruth League, and American Legion baseball.  Among my teammates at one time or another was current TSSAA administrator Gene Meneese, who was a star at Vanderbilt and later played several years of professional baseball, mostly at the AAA level. I once had two hits against future Major League pitcher Wayne Garland. My most memorable accomplishments however, came in my backyard.

I once held the record for most home runs in a single season of “Home Run Wiffle Ball.” I’m sure you all know what wiffle ball or whiffle ball is. It’s that little hard, plastic ball you hit with a hard, plastic bat. After a few games, the ball would crack and you could still get a few more times at bat with it, if you wrapped it in duct tape. You could do the same thing if you had a crack or a split in your bat. I once created a super bat, when I taped the crack near the top of the bat, then cut off the handle, stuck an old broom handle up inside the bat, then wrapped tape all around the handle. You talk about some tape measure home runs. That bat lasted me three whole seasons .

When we had several kids, (boys and girls) we would actually play real baseball with bases and three outs per side. When there was just two or three of us, we would play “Home Run.”  Each player would get three outs, but any ball hit was an out, unless it was a home run.  At my house on Brooks Ave. in Madison, Tennessee, the home run line was the lower electrical line running alongside the street. As we got better and bigger, we would occasionally hit a home run or two over the line, across the street, and over a wire fence into a field where my neighbor raised turkeys. (You wouldn’t want to climb over the fence to retrieve the ball, when the turkeys were loose and on that end of the field. They were more than just mean; they were evil.) Every now and then you could find a rotten turkey egg to throw at your friends, but when it busted, it stunk up the entire neighborhood with one of the most putrid smells ever. It was so bad, your game had to be suspended for at least an hour.

My best season produced 650 home runs. I held the record for just one year however, as one of the neighbor kids hit 807 the next year; though I still believe to this day he cheated. Some of the games would last until dark, when the only reason we would stop playing would be the inability to see the electrical wire home run line. The longer we played the game, the more creative we became. It would no longer be Randy versus Gilbert, or Randy versus Larry. It would be the Yankees versus the Cardinals or Braves versus the Dodgers. You would go through an entire lineup, batting left-handed when a lefty came up, or switching to the right side, when a right handed hitter appeared.

I hope that kids today will have similar experiences and memories of baseball or any other sport. It was more than just a lot of fun; it helped make me what I am today. 

rsmithsports@comcast.net

---

Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).


Lookouts - Barons Wednesday Game Rained Out

The heavy rains in the area caused the cancellation of Wednesday night's game between Birmingham and Chattanooga at AT&T Field in downtown Chattanooga.  (click for more)

Dixie Youth Baseball: Signal Mountain Wins 9-10s Title

Using a trio of pitchers – Forrest Sveadas (2 innings), Sam Eldridge (3-5 th inning) and Carter Giles (6th   inn.)  - who combined for two strikeouts and allowing just two earned runs, the Signal Mountain American defeated Signal Mountain National, 8-4, to win the Dixie Youth Baseball District 6 championship for 9-10s (AA) Tuesday at Senter Field on Lookout ... (click for more)

Work Set To Restart On Chickamauga Lock This Year

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated $3 million that Congress provided for fiscal year 2015 to restart construction on Chickamauga Lock this year, Senator Lamar Alexander and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann announced. “We need to replace Chickamauga Lock before it fails, and I talked with Secretary Darcy today to thank her for making this project a priority by deciding to restart ... (click for more)

Boyd Asks Coppinger For Public Apology; Does Not Get One

County Commissioner Tim Boyd on Wednesday morning read a letter in which he asked County Mayor Jim Coppinger for a public apology. However, he did not get one. Instead, County Mayor Coppinger called remarks last Wednesday by Commissioner Boyd that the county mayor had $4.4 million in discretionary funds "ridiculous." He said that money includes such items as the Humane Educational ... (click for more)

Police Need To Stop The Road Cowboys - And Response

Where is our highway patrol?  If they were known to regularly patrol our interstate highways through our city I don't think it would take long before the "truckers" were aware of it.  There are places in our country where this is the case.   When I have traveled Interstates 24 and 75 I may see the occasional car pulled over but rarely if ever is it an 18-wheeler. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Never Disturb The Dead

I’ve got too many things in my life that scare me so I’ve always been real leery of “unnecessary fear.” A guy named Terry wanted to teach me how to catch a live rattlesnake one time but had a tough time telling me what exactly to do with the angry serpent when the time came to let it go. I have the same view of these paranormal societies where otherwise sane people go around looking ... (click for more)