Keep it Simple: Kickball — not for sissies (or old people)

·3 min read

Last Christmas, on a whim, I bought my wife an Official World Kickball Association kickball. It may have been a mistake. Other thoughtful husbands buy their wives jewelry or nice articles of clothing as a gift. I bought mine a kickball. Maybe someone should have kicked me in the derriere before I came to the conclusion a kickball would make a thoughtful gift for a baby boomer.

I grew up in the early '60s playing kickball during morning and afternoon recess at my local elementary school. The games were cutthroat and highly contested regarding whether a player was safe or out on any given play which was the slightest bit close. There were of course no kickball umpires keeping tabs on things — this was the Wild West of kickball — the games were rife with arguing and bickering; at times taking up a good portion of our short recess time.

Michael Jones
Michael Jones

All too soon, regardless of how much time was spent arguing the merits of whether a kicked ball was foul or in play, or whether a kicker was safe or out as they rounded the bases, it was time to head inside for more reading, writing and arithmetic.

For reasons unknown nobody in my neighborhood owned a kickball, official or otherwise, and so our fierce games were limited to the schoolyard playground. After school, on weekends and during summer break from school we played baseball, football, or hockey, depending on the time of year. Kickball though ruled our recess time during the school year.

Back then I could run the kickball bases like a demon possessed. Today, here in the present world of increasingly older and older age, dodgy knees and an arthritic hip, the idea of running the bases seems a bit absurd; as I was soon to find out last weekend when my children and grandchildren spent a few days at our house.

It was hot, yet breezy, the breeze making spending time outside perfectly bearable and so we found ourselves playing outdoor games and hitting golf balls into the field behind the house. Somebody brought the official kickball out from the garage and I rounded up some official bases — scraps of wood — from the barn and we soon had an "unofficial" kickball field laid out.

It soon became apparent I was no longer a demon on the bases, or in the field. I can't remember the last time I had tried to run anywhere, other than to the fridge to get a beer, but I soon discovered there was running and then something I was doing which was a very different version of that thing my grandkids do without even thinking about. My grandkids ran the bases. I plodded around the bases. My grandkids sprinted after kicked balls like jackrabbits. I chased after balls like a human sloth — "letting" the grandkids run the bases willy-nilly while I huffed and puffed chasing after the elusive official kickball.

After a couple innings of this exquisite brand of torture I declared a rest break. And then rather quietly, "game over." Now all I have to do is think of a great hiding place for my wife's official kickball before my kids and grandkids come for their next visit to this former kickball star's house.

— Michael Jones is a columnist and contributor for the Gaylord Herald Times. He can be reached at mfomike2@gmail.com

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Keep it Simple: Kickball — not for sissies (or old people)