Life is But a Theme
From 2013-2016, 'Life is But a Theme' shed light on Frank's life, loves, and his world of play.
This section will be periodically updated.
This section will be periodically updated.
My summers were spent playing a lot of wiffleball. I played most often with the kid across the street. His nickname for me was 'Iss'. My nickname for him was 'Osha'.
No backstory exists for those nicknames. They were just stupid.
There were two versions that were played most often:
1) One on One, 'Automatic', in front of a house. One pitcher. One hitter. One out per inning. If you struck out, that was it - new inning. If you hit a pop up and it was caught - new inning. If you hit a ground ball directly to the pitcher and it was caught - new inning.
The percentage was in the hitter's favor however to keep an inning going. If you hit a ground ball past the pitcher - single. If you hit the ball on a fly past the sidewalk to the front lawn - double. If you hit it to the bushes planted in front of the house on a fly - triple. If you roof'd it - home run.
Hours of entertainment. The '86 Mets vs. the '86 Yankees. I was learning how to be a mimic before I even knew what that was. The way Lenny Dykstra stood in his batting stance, the way Darryl Strawberry kicked his leg. The way I seemed to make an out every time Rafael Santana was up because that's what he did.
What I didn't realize is that I lost these games a lot because I was a right handed hitter and Dykstra, Strawberry, and Keith Hernandez were lefties. And YOU HAD TO HIT LEFTY IF YOU WERE A LEFTY. And I couldn't hit as a lefty. Osha was a switch hitter.
Osha could bat from both sides.
Stick with the baseball connotations on that. It's what I mean.
2) One on One on One on the Field. One hitter, one pitcher, one fielder, one out per inning. There was small grass area at the park down the block from my house. There were three thirds to each inning. You had to run after you hit, so there were plays on the field. After you made an out, you would go to the field and the pitcher would hit, while the original fielder went to the 'mound' and pitched.
Hours of entertainment.
One year we decided that we would spend our nights practicing rundowns on particularly hot summer nights...on a slip and slide. One runner would be caught between two ends of the slip and slide (or, the bases). The ball would be tossed back and forth until the runner had to decide when to slide into one of the bases. They had to make it without being tagged out.
This lasted 37 minutes.
The slip and slide was set, the hose was on, the fielders were in place, we took our turns. Osha, who owned the slip and slide, was the one caught in the rundown this time. Me and the other guy, who was more of a friend of Osha's than a friend of mine, started tossing the wiffleball back and forth. Osha darted his feet back and forth. Which way would he go? Which way would he go?
Osha then took off running like a bat out of Hell... into the inside of his house.
We were confused, but we waited...
It was awkward because this other kid was Osha's friend and not mine so we really didn't have that much to talk about. And back then 20-25 minutes felt like the equivalent to 6 weeks.
We then started to put together what had happened in the moments before like a mystery.
Osha grabbed his ear!
We then heard the screaming.
Slowly, we approached his side door that led to his kitchen. The friend of Osha peeked into the window...
He was stunned and ducked down out of sight.
"What's going on?", I asked,
"Osha's mom has his head bent over the sink!"
So we both did what we thought was right... we got the Hell out of there!
Thoughts of Osha being water tortured passed in my head throughout the night. The next morning, Osha called from his house. Not on the phone. He would yell with a high pitch squeal from his patio. I would have to return the squeal.
We were weird... I didn't know it back then to the extent I know it now but, yeah, we were.
I met up with Osha and he told me what happened.
His mother was pouring hydrogen peroxide into his ear due to the severe pain (hey, it was the 1980's). This went on for 45 minutes (like I said, the 80's). When it went nowhere but to becoming a painful, flooded ear, they went to a hospital.
There the doctors removed a beetle that had clung to Osha's eardrum while it was drowning in hydrogen peroxide.
Protect yourselves on these hot summer nights, kids.
And wiffleball can be dangerous. I have lots of stories. Thank goodness kids don't go out and play anymore.