A photo of the northwest corner of Earl’s Meadow, where we would play baseball on summer afternoons.
By Richard Mabey Jr.
From the summer of 1964, when I was 10 years old, till about the summer of 1971, when I was 17; the old neighborhood gang would play baseball during the daytime in the big back field of the old Mabey Homestead. The field was located on the northeastern side of Mabey Lane. The grassy field measured a little more than an acre in size. It was named Earl’s Meadow, because my Great Uncle Earl was going to build a home there, when he came home from the First World War. Sadly, Great Uncle Earl was killed in battle.
I don’t know why it was, but one of the neighborhood boys, Joey, always chose to be the shortstop. Joey was just a bit younger than most of us. He became our adopted little brother. Joey was energetic, full of enthusiasm and a great ball player.
Before we began each game, we would “choose up” teams. Sometimes Joey would be on my team, sometimes he would be on “the other team.” I remember, so very well, those times when Joey was on “the other team.”
I would get up to bat. I would look out across Earl’s Meadow, deciding where I would do my best to hit the ball. And, there would be Joey in the position of shortstop. Joey was always ever ready. Joey would be leaning over, just a little bit. His eyes would be intently studying the batter’s swing. He kept the palms of his hands glued to his knees. From time to time, he would hit the inside of his baseball glove.
When you were at bat, the bottom line was this: you didn’t want to hit the ball to Joey. Joey was quick and agile. He had a great throwing arm with incredible accuracy, when he would throw the ball the first baseman. Joey would spring up in the air, to catch a line drive. He would hop to the left or to the right, to glove a flying ball. In short, Joey was a great shortstop.
Looking back, I think that the thing that made Joey such a great shortstop was that he had such a good attitude. He was one hundred percent, a team player. Joey had such a “can do” attitude, it was amazing. I learned a lot from Joey during those wonderful summer days of our childhood.
Joey taught me to be ever ready. To give it all I got, when doing anything in life. He taught me to maintain a positive attitude, even when his team was losing by 10 runs. Also, Joey taught me that sometimes, you have to reach high to catch the high flying, line drive.
We don’t call Joey, “Joey” any more. Joey is now Joe. He is a very successful businessman. He is a leader in his field. Joe also has a dedicated ministry of reaching out to the elderly. Joe often visits hospitals and nursing homes to bring a bit of joy and happiness to the elderly folks.
Joe no longer plays shortstop on summer afternoons. But, he still reaches for the moon and the stars, in striving to do the best he can in his professional life and in his ministry to the elderly. Joe is a big success.
Sometimes when we’re a bit down, it is important that we remember to be ever ready. Ever ready for the golden opportunity that may come to us, at any moment in time. It is important to remember that sometimes we need to stretch, reach and jump high to catch the high flying golden opportunity coming our way. And, most importantly, we’ve got to maintain a good attitude.
So, to my old friend Joe, I simply say this: thank you for the valuable lessons that you taught me on those hot afternoons when we were kids playing baseball on that wonderful grassy field. The bottom line is that, so many times in life, attitude determines altitude!