Saturday, January 26, 2013


Over the years, an old gray tee-shirt of Dave's regularly makes an appearance whenever I am doing the laundry. Although it has shrunk, due to its frequent trips to the washer, it maintains an interesting collection of stains, in spite of those trips. Adding insult to injury, a few holes have now appeared alongside the collar of the shirt, yet still, despite its torn and tattered appearance, Dave refuses to allow me to retire it. I suspect that he overlooks these numerous flaws and defects, because it possesses one particular attribute of which he is particularly fond; the quote emblazoned on the front of the shirt which reads BASEBALL IS LIFE...the rest is just details. 
Dave's love of baseball began at an early age.  The trips to Belle Isle, with his maternal grandmother, Grandma Lucy, included excursions fishing together while listening to Tigers games on the radio.  He remembers sitting with his mother in the kitchen, his mother carving a juicy summer watermelon, while the Tigers played as well.  He also would lay down at night, transistor radio by his ear, to be lulled to sleep by the soothing voice of Ernie Harwell, those nights when the Tigers played late. I suspect these happy memories, and the people who shared them with him, have as much to do with his love of the game as the game itself.  
Dave started playing softball as a member of the Green Briars, at about the age of seven.  They played on the gravel at Trix Elementary School in Detroit, and aspired to one day prove their mettle and advance to the real diamonds adjacent to Trix on Wishegan Field, as well as on  Hielmann field and later Bessie. The ultimate goal was fast pitch hardball and somewhere along the way, Dave's potential as a pitcher was noticed and he began to work hard to live up to it. 
Dave would spend hours practicing his pitching on a strike zone he had created on the side of the pagoda that rested in the middle of Wishegan field; rain or shine he spent many an hour there, throwing the ball over and over, honing his skills. He would also be invited to play pickup games with his older brothers, but so fierce was the  competitive spirit of this 10 year old that he would become unhinged at any mistakes made by the older players and would scream and chastise them for their errors. Eventually, his brothers' friends suggested that the irritating younger brother no longer be invited to play, as they found it extremely annoying to be coached by someone's younger sibling; a memory that still causes me to chuckle, whenever it comes to mind. He received guidance from many fathers too, who generously devoted their off hours to coaching, and the impact they had on his life and his skills, still lingers with him to this day.  The names come to mind easily... their importance in his life that great:  his own father, Mr. Carlone, Mr. Cofield, Mr. Masnick, Mr. Vizzaccero and Mr. Haner.  I am sure there were others, as well, and I sincerely hope that they realized the importance of all the contributions that they made during those days.  So many children, on so many teams, learned lessons from these men that would remain with them with for a lifetime; validating the fact that the time they spent coaching was truly, time well spent. 
Perhaps the man that had the biggest impact on him though, was his coach Mr. Pilarski.  Mr. Pilarski was the principal at St. Raymond's Elementary school in Detroit, but also found the time to coach baseball, as well.  He, himself, had played in the Minor Leagues, and had not only valuable insights to share about Dave's pitching, but also the ability to motivate and encourage him to reach his full potential during the one year that he coached him when Dave was in the eighth grade.  It was for the CYO League, and every year since 1965 Assumption Grotto had won the CYO League Championship.  There were ten games played that season and Dave pitched for every game but one.  After his first victory that season, Mr. Pilarski pulled Dave aside and handed him the game ball from the win.  He told him that it belonged to him, and that he knew that at the end of the season he could have all of them, because he was that good a pitcher. His prediction proved correct, and after the final out that year, Dave had the game ball from all nine games that he pitched in; their only loss that season was the game that he missed due to an ear infection.  St. Raymond's won the CYO League Championship that year, in 1972, and the victory is still sweet, even in his memory as a man of 54.
This past summer we attended an Osborn High School reunion and I listened as Dave chatted with a man with whom he had played ball with in those days.  Their reminiscences were wonderful to listen to, and it was clear to me that those days spent playing ball and practicing, left an indelible mark on both of them.  It happened again the other day, when Dave and I ran into another player from those days who had played for Assumption Grotto.  He greeted Dave and me by asking me if I knew how great a pitcher Dave had been   Once again, the names of those they had played with, and the fathers that spent time coaching them, came to mind easily as they shared their memories of those very special times.  It is clear that Dave was not the only young man whose life was impacted by the game, and by those with whom they interacted.  Those days are imprinted in their memories and their reflections on them still bring them great joy.
Dave still loves baseball and follows the Tigers.  He can recite the names of all the players from every season they won the World Series in, and the statistics and important plays relating to each game.  He still rants and raves at the television, not unlike the 10 year old boy who chastised his older brothers and their friends so many years ago, whenever someone commits any error or perceived mistake during the game.  The love of the game still exists within him, as well the competitive spirit that is always needed to be a winner.
As I, once again, fold up the tattered shirt, a gift from his daughter Jamie, bearing the statement BASEBALL IS LIFE...the rest is just details, I recognize the reason why he never wants to part with it.  Baseball had a great impact on Dave's life when he was young; helping to mold him into the man he would later, grow to become.  It strengthened his love of family, taught him the value of discipline and a good work ethic, and the importance an individual can have on the life of a youngster anytime he or she is willing to give of their time. So I guess we will hold on to that shirt until it literally falls apart at the seams, because as with so many men of Dave's generation who grew up on the eastside of Detroit, its words ring true; BASEBALL IS LIFE...and the rest is just details.  
~Blessings, Amycita~

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Five days ago I was struck down by a terrible virus that I contracted from a friend of mine on Facebook...and I literally mean me, not my computer. The friend had posted on her page that SHE had just recovered from a "vicious 24 hour stomach virus" and that she was waiting to see if the rest of her family would soon be suffering from the same.  I replied that I was sending good thoughts her way; bravely risking my own health, by typing on what proved to be her highly contagious thread. Sure enough, 23 hours later I was struck down with the same exact malady... except my illness lasted for four days, so I am guessing that others must have commented on her status as well, causing me to reread the contagion thrice more, when I received their notifications.
The onset of my illness was quite sudden.  On Saturday, although I had a headache, I had a productive day and even enjoyed a late-night chat online with one of my extremely humorous friends. Finally though, fatigue and the headache forced me to say goodnight and I went to bed oblivious as to what lay in store for me the next day. I shan't go into the gory details for we have all suffered the woes of  stomach viruses, but, suffice to say, that when I awakened Sunday morning it was by the full force of the enemy combatant germs which had staged a surprise attack on my body while I innocently lay sleeping.  My friend had not been exaggerating about the viciousness of this particular virus, and, whenever I wasn't retching with alarming frequency into my ever-present 28.7 ounce empty plastic Folgers coffee container, (an idea that I am considering marketing because I think it really was rather ingenious ) the only thought that gave me hope was the fact that I would be returning to good health in a mere 24 hours.
Much to my dismay however, the first day passed and then the second with my symptoms abating only slightly. By this I mean that I only needed to keep my Folgers can in close proximity to me, as opposed to actually carrying it with me everywhere I went.  By Wednesday though, when I was forced to cancel a very important appointment that I had made 7 weeks earlier, I truly began to feel discouraged.  I thought to myself how awful it would be to always feel this sick and said a little prayer for anyone who might suffer that way on a daily basis... I also began to contemplate the distressing possibility that I soon would be joining their ranks. Ever the optimist though, with great resolve I decided to will myself back into good health by doing a little cleaning, albeit in very short spurts.  I would clean for 3 or 4 minutes until utterly exhausted, then stop to rest while bemoaning my fate.  Once completed, I would summon up the strength to get up and clean a little more before again repeating the resting and bemoaning sequence.  By mid-afternoon I decided I was never going to get better and started worrying about the entire rest of my existence and how I would ever manage to make it through life, in this pitiful condition. I felt overwhelmed and anxious, as the burden of my never-ending 4 day illness weighed upon my shoulders.  Bereft, I finally laid down once more and fell asleep. In the evening when I awoke a few hours later, I discovered, much to my surprise, that I was feeling a little better!  I was filled with joy and jumped up to share the news with my husband who promptly told me to lay back down, which turned out to be very sage advice because all that joy and jumping was starting to make me feel a little queasy again. 
Today dawned though, and I awoke feeling like my old self again.  I felt extraordinarily grateful to have nothing more than the normal aches and pains that I have grown accustomed to over the past few years.  They seemed familiar and manageable, and, somehow, I felt blessed to have them.  A few minutes later though, I was distracted from my musings when I heard a familiar sound; it was my husband bemoaning his fate, as he awoke to find that he too, had now been attacked by enemy combatant germs during the night while he slept.  Fortunately, I am now feeling well enough to take care of him....from a distance, and while simultaneously attempting to disinfect our entire house from all traces of what will now be known as, "The Vicious 24 Hour Facebook Virus."  : )   ~ Blessings- Amycita ~