The old baseball on a shelf on my bookcase. I keep it in the very cup that Russell Hiatt, the real Floyd the Barber, gave to me as a gift.
The Old Baseball
By Richard Mabey Jr.
In the Spring of 1969, in my sophomore year at Boonton High School, I got cut from the baseball team. I’ve told that story before. It was once published in the old Independence News of northeast New Jersey. But, fortunately, that wasn’t the rest of the story.
The Mabey clan: my Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Vi, my Dad, and my seven uncles. This picture was taken after Grandpa had his stroke and just shortly before he went Home to be with the Lord.
Sure I felt defeated. Sure I felt down in the dumps. And, yes I cried my eyes out. But nothing, I mean nothing, was ever going to stop me! Nothing ever defeats a Mabey. It’s something that was pounded into my head by my Grandpa, my Dad, my Aunt Vi, and my seven uncles. They were a compassionate family; but Grandpa, Dad and my seven uncles were not the type of men who would let you sit around and feel sorry for yourself. Many the time I remember one of them telling me, “you’re a Mabey, you come from rugged stock.”
The Mabey Coat of Arms. The shining armor representing the willingness to fight for what is right. The tiger representing to go forth fearlessly.
My Dad taught me from the time I was a little boy, to never accept defeat. To never give up. To stand tall and try, try, try again and again. It was ingrained into the marrow of my being. My father told me hundreds of times that to be a Mabey, was the mark of the rugged heart.
Chapel Hill School where I went to grammar school from first grade to eighth grade. It was the location of the tryouts for the Lincoln Park Babe Ruth League Baseball Team.
Dad knew I was hurting from being cut from my high school baseball team. It was only about a week later that Dad showed me an article in the old Lincoln Park Herald announcing tryouts for the Lincoln Park Babe Ruth League Baseball Team. The tryouts were being held that coming Saturday morning at the baseball field at Chapel Hill School, where I went to grammar school from first grade through eighth grade.
I remember Dad simply said to me, “you ought to try out for that baseball team, Richard. You got nothing to lose.” And, in that moment a surge of hope and victory soured through my arteries and veins. For I knew deep in my heart, my Dad believed in me more than I believed in myself.
The view of the baseball diamond from home plate at dear old Chapel Hill School.
Well, that Saturday morning I got up bright and early. I ate a bowl of cereal and then hopped on my bicycle, with my baseball glove strung onto my handlebars. I had this great sense of victory in the marrow of my bones. I had this feeling that nothing was going to stop me. I had this sense that I could not fail.
Well, long story short, my guardian angel smiled down at me that day. I made the team. I was so incredibly proud. It was a dream come true for me. I was going to play baseball on a real baseball team and wear a real baseball uniform.
I played my heart out that year. I was by no means the best player on the team. I never hit a homerun. But, I did get on first base a fair number of times. And, yes I did have my share of strike outs. But the thing of it is, is that I made the team. I was so incredibly proud of that.
Somewhere in all of my shoeboxes of pictures, I have a picture of myself in my baseball uniform. I have not been able to find it. My deepest fear is that it may have been in one of the boxes that had been stored in our cellar in Lincoln Park and got ruined, one of the times that our cellar flooded. Or that somehow it had gotten lost in between the move to Central Pennsylvania and then the move to Central Florida.
My Dad and I were very close. Dad ingrained it into the marrow of my being to never give up on a dream that I held in my heart.
My father ingrained it in my head to never give up. Never give up. On my first high school chemistry test I got a grade of D. Dad insisted I study a lot more. I ended up getting a B for the final grade that marking period.
Dad and I, when I was 13 years old.
In scouts, I was the unlikely candidate. Having battled rheumatic fever for one full year of my life, when I was 12 years old, I was not the strongest scout in the troop. One merit badge counselor, for Swimming Merit Badge, told me that I would never make Eagle Scout. I proved the moron wrong!
A precious memento from my days of practicing chiropractic as a young man, in West Virginia.
Rheumatic fever had done some damage to the basal ganglion in my brain. It left me with a slight learning disability. Very few people know that about me. Well, now more know. My high school counselor once told me not to get my hopes up too high for academic achievement after high school, since I had a damaged basal ganglia. I proved the moron wrong and went to college for eight years and earned a doctorate degree.
What am I saying here? Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish great things. Don’t let anyone ever intimidate you so that you give up on your dreams in life. Never, never, never give up! Never give up! Never give up!