by Denis Wuestman
Over 50 Years Ago
Flashback – July 1964. I was just starting to really like baseball as a young kid growing up in Brooklyn, NY. It was July 7, 1964 – the day the All-Star Game was being played at Shea Stadium (home of the NY Mets back then). I remember parts of that day vividly some 50+ years later. Here’s why… That morning my father woke my brother and I and asked if we wanted to go see the game in person. Well, you can imagine the excitement! Since we had no tickets we had to go the ballpark and buy them. Well, back then, this type of thing was possible. We arrived very early and stood on a rather long line. It was worth it. My Dad bought three general admission tickets for $ 2.10 (not a typo!) each and we sat in the next to last row in the upper left field stands. I recall the long walk up the stairs to the seats and how high we were. No matter. This built lasting memories and, at that time, had this little kid anxious to pretend he was Willie Mays next time he played stickball. What an experience. I “glowed” then and even today when I think back to that day.
Some 25 Years Later
Flashback – June 1989. This now “30 something kid” still enjoyed a casual game of softball in between work, family and chores. It was this year that I met the “retired boys of summer”. One Saturday morning after completing a softball practice, I watched about 20, 60 -75 year-old men take the field for their weekly softball practice. I stuck around to watch. The leader was a gregarious 69 year-old with a friendly smile. With a laugh, he asked us 30 somethings if we wanted to play a game so they could ‘teach us a few things about baseball’. Well, most of us were on to the other parts of our lives, so we passed that day. This went on for many weeks and I recall watching these retired boys of summer enjoy the game that they most certainly played when they were young. They were good, focused and a little serious at times – old habits die hard! But, what I noticed was the way they “glowed” playing the game, cheering each other on, doing a bit of friendly trash talking, and just simply enjoying the moment. It was their time to be kids again and experience the awe and fun of the game while spending time with friends. It made me appreciate the “glow” both them and I received from doing something enjoyable – in this case centered around our nations favorite pastime.
Hold that Glow!
Today, as I am in that “retired boys of summer” age group, I think of the lessons being taught that year – they are easier to relate to now. Try not to lose your glow in life, especially in your post career years. Do things that make you happy, fulfilling, be like a kid again – whatever it is. For these men- it was a game of softball. Surround yourself with people you like, plan activities and GO do them. A great balance of meaningful activities that meet our social, physical, mental, creative and intellectual needs will help us have a much more satisfying retirement life. As a side benefit – you are building a legacy for those next 30 somethings to remember. The 69 year-old man I met that day – passed away 10 years later. As I had stayed in touch with him, it was then that I met his grandchildren for the first time. Their memory of grandpa – playing ball and zest for life! Helluva “glow” that man had!
Oh yes – back to 1964 – the great game that started these wonderful lessons for me has changed a lot since then. One thing remains – it gave me a “glow” along with many others it seems. Where did you “glow” in your life? What will you do in retirement to continue to shine and build a memory for others to learn from? How could lessons from your past help re-kindle your retirement passion?
Thanks Baseball and…..
In case you were wondering about that 1964 All-Star Game – it ended dramatically. Johnny Callison of the Philadelphia Phillies hit a walk off 3 run homer in the bottom of the ninth off of Dick Raditz of the Red Sox, scoring Curt Flood and Johnny Edwards to give the National League a 7-4 win. Couldn’t get any better than that. I was told that I “glowed” for weeks. Thanks for the life-long memory Dad! And thanks to the “retirement boys of many summers” for the retirement life lessons – came in handy!
Happy Fathers Day to all Dads and Grandfathers!