Listening to Baseball with Papaw

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I am listening to the Astros play game seven against the Yankees on the radio. We have a big screen projection television, but I listen to baseball on the radio or the wonderful MLB application.

Why?

When I was a boy, Papaw Shelby Reynolds would go to sleep listening to the Reds play on his bedroom radio. I loved listening at night from my room when we stayed over. 1908 Preston Street, Charleston, West Virginia was my idea of Rivendell. It changed slowly, my dad’s bedroom was still called “his room” even when Papaw moved to it. We stayed in Auntie Jean’s room, two twin beds. There I first read my dad’s copy of Hound of the Baskerville and was terrified when the hounds of the hills began to cry as they always do at night.

Next to me the Reds played through the night as the Big Red Machine won game after game. Later a man who would become a friend (God rest his soul!), Frank Pastore pitched for an inferior team, but the radio kept playing . . . until it stopped.

So now, whatever the outcome, I listen with Papaw to game seven. He would not have rooted for the Yankees, heaven forbid. A wonderful thing about true Christianity is that the dead are not gone. We cannot meet them through manipulation, necromancy is forbidden us. They are more free and we cannot manipulate them with tricksy ways. However, they love us, Papaw loved us, so they watch over us, a great cloud of witnesses. Papaw loved God more than baseball. He played ball for Sissonville in the day, but was a deacon for his whole life.

If you wish one bit of advice from an older man full of memories tonight, then it is this: make sure your children know their grandparents, if their grandparents are virtuous. If you are a young man, tempted to abandon duty, pause. Think about it. Don’t do it. Go listen to an Astros game on the radio and let temptation pass.

I ran amuck as a young man, but gradually settled down, repented (God help me!) my sins, and have resisted my inclinations in part so that my grandchildren (not yet born!) would have the memories I have: a good man doing his small traditions at night. I remember:

Papaw Earl getting ice cream and whipping me in checkers.

Papaw Shelby telling stories with voices.

Nana pretending to be Mrs. Cucumber as I visited with her as Mr. Tomato on the sun porch..

Granny bringing us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (no crust!) as we watched cartoons and read awesome books she bought for us at the K-Mart.

Game Seven: Papaw Shelby would listen, even though we gave him a color television for his fiftieth. He earned it, but he was a man of tradition, habits, baseball, America, and God. Whatever happens, I am happy.

Go Astros!


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