I can’t remember when I didn’t love baseball. I was encouraged in my devotion by my father who took me to Crosley Field to see the Cincinnati Reds, explained the fine points of the game during radio broadcasts, and by the time I was 10, appointed me as his pitching practice catcher. I had a great ball glove with well-oiled pocket, but what I wanted for Christmas was an official, grey flannel, pin-striped baseball uniform.
Sure enough, on that wartime Christmas Eve in 1942, under the tree was the gorgeous soft uniform with elastic-banded knickers. I couldn’t wait to put on the uniform although I had to look a little strange wearing it with finger curls hanging halfway down my back.
I wore the uniform all evening, watching my little sister with her toys, admiring the tree and eating my favorite Christmas candy – Mother’s fudge and the old-fashioned chocolate drops with cream centers and dark chocolate coating.
Toward the end of the evening, I plunged into a big leather chair and threw my legs luxuriously over the arm, not realizing that I had sat down on a big gooey chocolate drop. There was a dark brown stain on the seat of those grey flannel knickers that never did wash out completely.
But it didn’t matter – the thrill of the gift and the pride in the wearing had already taken place on a long-ago memorable Christmas Eve.