Drawing by Brian Bateman for “Mickey Mantle Day in Amsterdam”

My first memories as a baseball fan all involve Mickey Mantle. Growing up in upstate New York during the late 1950s, the only team anyone talked about was the Yankees, and, of course, Mickey Mantle was the most popular Yankee of them all. When my friends and I played Wiffle ball in the back yard or organized pick-up games at the nearby field, we all eagerly claimed to be “The Mick” that day.

Then, when we were old enough to actually play in our local Little League, we all begged the coach to let us play centerfield or, even better…

Photo by Joey Kyber on Unsplash

Recently, our local newspaper featured a high-school baseball coach who just earned his 800th victory. This particular coach began his career at age 24, and during the following 46 years, his teams averaged 17 wins per season, never had a losing season, and won multiple league, sectional, and state championships. Those are amazing accomplishments for this 70-year-old educator who plans to retire after this season. Congratulations and God bless!

As I thought about this amazing man and his remarkable achievement, I began to wonder, who’s at the other end of the spectrum, a coach who did not have anywhere near…

Photo by Caterina Berger on Unsplash

I am always amazed by the number of people who take the time to wish me a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook or through a card in the mail. Thank you to all of you. I received one unique greeting the other day from a former classmate who was born two months ahead of me. This old friend kindly sends me a card each year wishing me health and happiness, but this year, he added the following message to commemorate this particular milestone: Congratulations on turning “three score and ten.”

If you recall Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” you know that a…

Photo by Jim LaBate

I love baseball. I really do. I love each fundamental battle between the pitcher and the batter, the race to throw a runner out on the bases, and, of course, the nine-inning struggle to outscore the opposition. What I don’t love about baseball is watching three or four hours on TV night after night after night. Thus, my baseball viewing habits have changed over the years.

When I was growing up in the 1950s, long before cable TV was available in upstate New York, we had too little baseball on TV. We were lucky if we saw one or two…

Photo by Jim LaBate

I’ve been retired for almost a year now, and when I bump into people I haven’t seen in a while, they usually ask me two questions:

How’s retirement?

What are you doing?

The first question is easy, and I quickly answer with a one-word response: “Great.” I am thoroughly enjoying the freedom I now have to do whatever I want each day. During my 40-plus years as a teacher, I used to get up early each morning to read a bit and try to write a bit as well before I tackled my daily responsibilities as a breadwinner. Inevitably, I’d…

Image from Wikimedia

I watched an interesting documentary recently on Netflix called The Last Blockbuster. The movie focuses on the only remaining Blockbuster on the planet. Who knew? Not I.

Like most people, I assumed Blockbuster died off years ago when the two outlets near our home closed. Apparently, though, some remained open longer than others until only one is still open today, located in the rural town of Bend, Oregon, southeast of Portland. The film zooms in on Sandi Harding, the woman who has managed this store for the last 15 years, and the film is definitely worth seeing if you remember…

Photo by Lewis Wilson on Unsplash

I’m approaching the one-year mark of my retirement, and I’m about to do something I’ve never done before: plant a garden. However, before I explain my lack of gardening experience and also my current desire to grow vegetables, let me tell you about my one and only harvesting adventure.

During the early 1970s, when electric and battery-powered Weed Eaters first became available, my sisters and I decided to buy one for my dad who grew up with a garden in his back yard and who enjoyed having a small garden himself. During the late summer when he came home from…

From 1962 Baseball Stamp Album — Photo by Jim LaBate

Many people have been confined to their homes during the past year due to the COVID 19 situation and the quarantine. As a result, some of us have used that time to clean out the house, to begin to get rid of some of the junk we’ve collected through the years. Fortunately, as we sort through our junk, we sometimes find treasures from long ago, souvenirs that remind us of our youth and take us back to a time of innocence and optimism. …

In my basement office where I do most of my writing, I have an eight-by-ten, color photo of my parents, Pete and Eileen LaBate. I love looking at that picture because they were such wonderful parents to my five sisters and me, and their almost 60 years together before Mom passed were a testament to their love and their commitment to one another and to us. (Dad passed about five and a half years after Mom.) As their children, we were truly blessed to have them and their extended families in our young lives. …

Image from Pixabay

Have you ever dreamed of travelling cross country? Most likely, you have. Usually at the end of our educational pursuits and before we enter the work force full-time, we all dream about seeing all of America. Unfortunately, not many of us get that opportunity for one reason or another. Fortunately, I had that opportunity to travel for six weeks one summer early in my teaching career.

A good friend and I took three weeks to drive from New York to California, visiting both old friends and popular landmarks such as Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, Wrigley Field in…

Jim LaBate

Jim LaBate works as a writing specialist in The Writing Center at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy, New York.

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