Personal Relics: My Father’s Bat

You don’t hear much about my father on this blog, mostly because my parents divorced when I was a lad and I ended up in Missouri with my mother and her family instead of Wisconsin. I don’t have many mementos from my father, as he remarried, so when he passed away, I didn’t receive any of his effects.

But before he passed away, even before my parents divorced, when I was a boy, he gave me his childhood baseball bat.

As I might have mentioned, we were a bit poor growing up. Our apartment complex had a large common area behind the buildings, a bit of grass with a couple of trees beside the parking lot shared by all the buildings on the block, where we kids played baseball. It was a couple dozen square yards with a row of metal garbage cans to mark the outfield fence. We had no bases, of course; we had patches of dirt in the points of a diamond where the bases would be.

We, and by “we” in this case, I mean “My brother and I,” had no equipment. No gloves. I didn’t get my first ball glove until we found one in a garage sale or flea market when I was in middle school. We didn’t have any bats, but as we progressed, we acquired a few that had been left behind by other children, mostly cracked bats or bats with parts of the knob broken off. Also, we ended up with a couple of tennis balls, the balls we used to play baseball.

Of course, by “progressed,” I mean “were picked last because we played so badly and never really developed skills.” Maybe I’m just discussing my experience here and am including my poor hermano just so I don’t feel like such an outlier in ineptitude.

But I digress.

At some point, my father passed on his baseball bat to me or us:

My father's bat

My father had used this bat throughout his childhood on 33rd Street in Milwaukee. He liked it so much that, when it cracked, he put four screws in it to hold it together. Apparently, my father didn’t play in Little League, either, since the damage to this bat (and the others my brother and I later owned) rendered them unfit for official play.

The little notches in them represent home runs my father hit. In his youth, a home run was a broken window, after which they all actually ran home. He cut the notches in the barrel of the bat with his pocket knife. In the 1950s and early 1960s, little boys carried them, doncha know (why, children also had guns, which could lead me into the story of how my father tried to meet former President Eisenhower and instead became acquainted with the Secret Service, but that’s another digression).

The little rudimentary Xs are home runs that I hit with the bat. Although I probably exaggerated, as I don’t remember breaking any actual windows. I also probably had to carve the sigils with a kitchen knife.

I had thought that I still owned all the bats of my youth; they’d resided in my mother’s basement and garage for decades, and after she passed on, I remember where I kept them in our Old Trees house. I must have discarded them before the move to southwest Missouri, though.

But I saved my father’s bat. I’ll probably clean it off and put it on my office wall. I don’t have any blunt weapons in the office, and as someone pointed out on Facebook, reanimated skeletons only receive full damage from blunt weapons in Dungeons and Dragons. You can’t be too careful.