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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Anniversary Flashback: Baseball, Family and History

anthracite coal region
Baseball that beaned Johnny Pitts in 1898
The anniversary selection for June was the hardest decision of the year.  My two favorite posts that I've ever written were both in June.  Both involved the importance of family and roots in the sports world.  In June of 2012, I wrote a post called Loyalty, Tears and the Joy of Fandom.  In that post, written the night Dale, Jr. broke a four-year winless streak, I discussed the raw emotions that sports engender when they are part of your family's life.

But, after seeking the advice of a few close advisors, I chose a post from June of 2013 called Baseball, Family and History.  This post is a true story about my family in the coal region of Pennsylvania.

I am re-posting this in June in honor of my grandfather Bill "Lefty" Wetzel.

Baseball, Family and History

At a ball field carved out of the coal-filled mountains of Pennsylvania, Johnny Pitts stepped to the plate.  It was the summer of 1898 in Locustdale, PA ... a town that exists solely because of the anthracite veins that run beneath the ground.  Pitts was a small but wiry man.  He spent his weekdays toiling in the mines -- a job he started as a breaker boy at the age of eight.  It was a dark and dangerous existence.  But on this day, the world was bright.

In February, Johnny had married the love of his life, Stella Horbach.  And on this day, Johnny was playing the game that would grow to become America's pastime.  As Johnny Pitts dug in at the plate, his world was bright.  But, in an instant, it turned dark.  Click to read more.

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