My Uncle Bob is the reason my love of baseball exists today, and I give him all the credit in the world for opening up the greatest game ever invented to me.
In the summer time, starting in the mid 1960s, my Uncle Bob would come to Muskegon, or Kalamazoo, from were ever he lived, and take me, and my brothers Robert, and Paul, out to the local ball fields to play.
I was Bill Freehan, the old Tiger catcher, and my boyhood hero, and Robert was Bobby Murcer, the Yankees Center Fielder who replaced Mickey Mantle.
It was the greatest time we ever had, playing baseball, me and Robert on one team, Paul and Uncle Bob on the other.
Uncle Bob had to hit the ball to the opposite field, or he was out...very rarely did that happen, as many a baseball landed in the cornfields behind the outfield fences.
On my Uncle would hit the ball for Paul, he was still to little, being just around 3 or 4.
He would just run the bases....sometimes the wrong way...very funny, although I suppose we all did that when we were little guys.
When Paul got older, around the early 70s, he would start to play on his own , and then our baby brother, Joe, would run the bases, and Uncle Bob hit for him, and yes, watching little Joe run the wrong way, as the Sharp tradition of bad base running was continuing.
We had a great time.
Our baseball summer would always start by sitting in the middle of our living room, emptying out an old coffee can full of change that my Uncle had collected since his visit the year before.
The coins were separated out by pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and we then would roll up all those coins.
My brother Robert and I very rarely won those games, mostly because we fought every game, blaming each other for mistakes, even though we made so many each that we shouldn't be blaming each other.
I miss those days playing baseball in the sandlots and green Little League fields of my youth, even at the age of 50.
Happy Birthday Uncle Bob, we love you very much!