Athletics With Cents to Spare
JUVENAL first brought it to my attention, but John Locke made it acceptable in public education - the sound mind in a sound body. So it is perfectly proper for all the basketball coaches to rush in when school budgets pinch and clamor for big money in the sweat areas. I have made only one suggestion - that nobody be allowed to argue for sound bodies unless he can supply the third word in the famous trilogy: amo, amas, ****. For which I have not been hoisted to the shoulders of an adulatory crowd and given a victory in the public square, alas.
I have been thinking about the abuses of athletic advantages in my youth, when taxpayers felt a boy could get all the exercise he needed after school hours at the family woodpile. I played baseball faithfully, enthusiastically, and with considerable originality, and it never cost the taxpayers a cent.
Our high school baseball team paid its own way, although the diamond we played on was town property and had been built for the semi-professional "town team." It had been scooped and scraped long since when every man in town turned out with his horses, and with rakes and shovels, and no money had been raised for it in town meeting. It was never in the school budget. Our high school team used it in the late days of mud season, and before we began to practice we would smooth and rake the infield.
By the time the infield was really dry, school would be in summer vacation and the town team would be in action. Left field, where I played, trailed off into a swamp and never did dry out.
Uniforms were supplied by the storekeepers on Main Street. Mine was supplied by S. Fitts, Grain, Feed & Flour, as authenticated by letters stitched to the back. Sam Fitts, my benefactor, got little return on his investment, since the letters could not be seen from the single bench for spectators by first base. Only when I came to bat would anybody read the letters, and to Mr. Fitts's approval I batted left. However, since I was usually lifted in the late innings for a pinch hitter who was not sponsored,
the whole thing was a dubious venture. Our pinch hitter wasn't much of a hitter, really, but he had a gift for stepping into a pitched ball.