When I need to think something through at night, I lay in bed and turn a new, unused baseball in my throwing hand. The ball’s shape and the texture of its red, raised seams feed my need to fidget and its leather scent calms me with the peripheral memories of a thousand games.
I’ve done this a lot lately. So much so that Nina, my 9-pound Chihuahua-Husky mix, long ago lost interest and instead burrows under the covers when I pick up the ball.
What do I do now, I’ve wondered. Just short of age 50 and no job after 26 years in newspapers. This how blacksmiths or telegraph operators must have felt at one time.
I’m fortunate to have my health and I can work to pay bills as the need arises. But I don’t want to ever give up covering games and practices and sizing up players and coaches and teams. It’s the only thing I’ve really wanted to do since I was a cub reporter, botching names and confusing facts and trying to disguise inexperience with attitude.
That love was born in the Upper Valley. Back when my father took me to my first-ever contest, at Hartford High. We sat on the north sideline grass towards the Highland Ave. end on a sunny afternoon. I was captivated by the tiny skull-and-crossbones decals on the Hurricanes’ helmets and how quarterback Mike Stone flew past our noses during a touchdown run.
Mr. Stone, of course, went on to become Hartford’s coach and is now Lebanon High’s athletic director. He doesn’t know how that sprint changed my life, so don’t let on if you see him.
I spin the baseball and recall how I hung around Dartmouth College athletics for a decade before I graduated from Hanover High in 1989. I remember the thrill of being the Big Green baseball team’s bat boy and later, the incredible bond my football team formed my senior year.
For so long, local sports have lived in the inky pages of a daily paper. I hope they never leave that sweet space but I have my doubts. Games mean so much more to us than their scores, and it’s time for me to try and describe their magic and exhilaration and agony for you in a different medium.
I hope you experience as much enjoyment reading this site’s offerings as I do in putting them together. They’re for the little kid on the sidelines in all of us.