042005baseball2.jpgPhotographed junior varsity baseball at Floyd County High School Tuesday afternoon. The boys of summer at play.

Like many young men of my generation, I worshipped baseball. Had a transistor radio clipped to the basket of my bike and would pedal up to a hillside after delivering papers in Farmville, Virginia, to listen to the New York Yankees. Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris. Richmond’s Triple-A club at the time was a Yankees farm team and, once a year, the Yanks would come to Richmond to play.

Also played Little League ball. Third base. Typical suburban kid’s dream.

Then we moved to Floyd County. No Little League here at the time. My ball glove, bat and Yankees cap went into the closet, never to be used again. Baseball became a forgotten sport, part of a life that no longer existed, lost amid the crunch of football, the rush of basketball and the roar of stock car racing.

In 1985, while working in Washington, a friend talked me into joining a softball team that played in Arlington. Bought a new glove, some cleats and worked the kinks out of what was then a 38-year-old body. Got a hit in the first inning of the first game. Tried to score from third on slow grounder. Collided with the catcher. Broke my left arm and dislocated my shoulder. Sat out the summer and never played again.

That arm and shoulder still ache when the weather turns cold or wet but I put both to use Tuesday focusing my lenses on kids who play the game better than I ever could. Like so many of today’s youth, the FCHS players are stronger, faster and more proficient at the game.

But as I sat at my computer screen that night and edited the photos that would go to The Floyd Press for next week’s edition my mind went back to a Little League Field in Farmville and a kid who loved the game. Amy walked into the room at that time, stopped, and asked: “Honey, are you crying?”

“No,” I said. “Just my damn allergies.”