What I remember about my Dad’s competitive spirit:
It was in the late 1940s at about age nine while living in Pasadena, California. My Dad, Bill Jack, was playing in an overhand “fast pitch” Industrial Baseball League game at Brookside Park,next to the Rose Bowl. These guys used metal cleats on their shoes and they played hard and for keeps!
Dad was extremely quick, not large, mentally tough and a fiery competitor. On one night while he was playing Third Base,with me sitting in the third base dugout right next to where he was positioned at Third base, the runner at Second broke quickly for Third at lightening speed.
The play at Third was going to be close. The runner came in with his spikes raised high, a very dangerous and aggressive slide. The ball from the Catcher was thrown to Dad also with lightening speed. Dad blocked the base with his body, caught the ball and tagged the runner as the two of them collided in a brutal collision at Third Base.
Dad was down,and his leg was bleeding badly and he was in a lot of pain. I ran out to Third to see if he was OK. Dad lay there on the ground where the two of them had collided. Dad had been badly spiked. There was a gash in his leg and blood was running down. I asked Dad if he was OK. He looked at me in pain, but with a smile on his face, Dad displayed his baseball glove to show me that the ball was still in his glove. Dad said with satisfaction, ” I didn’t drop the ball!” Dad was right.The runner was out!
Moments later we were on our way to the Emergency Room at Huntington Hospital where Dad would receive stitches for the gash in his leg.
To this day, I vividly remember that night when Dad was knocked down, bleeding on the ground at third base,as he looked up and smiled to show me that he still had the ball in his glove. What a great lesson for me that night at Brookside Park on the basball field–life can knock us down hard, but we never have to ” drop the ball”.
Just to end this story, Dad was on the starting nine of his high school baseball team at Muir Tech (now John Muir HS) in Pasadena. Also starting on that same team was the great Jackie Robinson. Yes, Dad was Robinson’s team mate,and they were friends and neighbors to boot.
From my very early days, I was breathing Dodger Blue, first when the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, and then since 1958 when they moved to Los Angeles. There just will never be any baseball team other than Dodger Blue!