Hey gang… let’s play kickball

Mike Staton
I’m Mike Staton and I wrote this post.

Kids today are pretty much the same as they were back in the days when I wandered the halls and playground of Meyers Elementary School in Rialto, California. Or are they?

Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I couldn’t wait to head to the school library. I loved reading books on sports legends and space exploration. You’d find me at our house on St. Elmo Drive reading the biographies of baseball greats Mel Ott, Christy Matheson, Cy Young, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. In the days when NASA was young, I devoured stories of moon and Mars exploration, mighty rockets roaring away from their launchpads, brave astronauts guiding their spacecraft through asteroid storms.

Kids of a bygone era play a game of marbles.

Today’s kids… I’m not sure they do much reading. I do concede they read text messages and social media posts on websites like Twitter and Facebook. Back about 2012 when I was reporting for a weekly newspaper in Southeastern North Carolina, I did a story on a middle school book club. A teacher was volunteering his time to turn on kids to novels, trying to open their imagination to stories captured in words. I hope this gentleman and other teachers across America succeed. Otherwise, authors will lose the next generation of adult readers.

Koufax card
When I was in elementary school, this 1963 card was one of my favorites. I lost playing baseball toss-up.

When I was ten, I spent recess on my knees playing marbles with buddies. That’s why my jeans invariably had patches. And if it wasn’t marbles, I played four square or tetherball. Remember those games? Recess time always passed too quickly.

I want to mention one fad – baseball card tossing. Boys collected Topps baseball cards back then. We’d take them to school and play a game where we tossed cards against a stucco wall. You’d keep tossing until you or your opponent landed a card on top of one already resting on the concrete. Then you’d win back your cards as well as claim your opponent’s. Once I accidentally tossed a Sandy Koufax and lost it. Bummed me out for days.

The closest we got to a pickup game of softball was playing kickball. Two teams faced off on a Little League sized baseball field. Instead of a pitcher tossing a softball, he’d roll a kickball to home plate and the batter would kick the ball and run the bases. The fielders would try to get him out by hitting him with the ball. At least that’s the way I remember it.

kickball game
Another recess game I played in elementary school — kickball.

In the spring before the temperature got too hot, we played Little League baseball at San Ri Field just a couple of blocks from my house, on the other side of famed Route 66. Uniforms and rubber cleats – and games under the lights. A few years back, I covered similar games – Dixie, not Little League – for that weekly newspaper. I will say that kids today still love playing baseball. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed.

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I’m an author with three published fantasy novels – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The books make up a trilogy titled Larenia’s Shadow. A fourth novel, this one a historical romance set during the Civil War, is scheduled for publication in October. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble