Ballparks have come a long way
I'm not making comparisons, just offering some observations on the playing conditions of ballparks we enjoyed in our youth.
There were no Little League fields back when I played. In fact, there was no Little League, period.
Youngsters utilized the same fields, for the most part, that their older role models utilized. In other words, the little guys played on the same fields as the bigger guys, only at different times.
Fields were at a minimum and equipment such as baseballs, bats and gloves fell into the same category. Some kids had spikes, some didn't. And in some instances, they were not permitted.
In our first organized baseball league games, the same ball was often used for the entire game. Bats were taped when broken and oftentimes nailed and then taped. Gloves were often shared among teammates and sometimes they were even shared with members of the opposing team.
In non-league games, taped balls were often utilized along with broken bats that had been discarded by the "older guys."
Sponsors provided T-shirts and hats, which made you feel like you were playing in the major leagues. Most of the time, the shirts and hats were too big, but mothers were counted on to correct this dilemma. Somehow at opening game ceremonies, everyone was polished and looked like big leaguers.
What brought about this column was a recent visit to Brandy Springs Park in Mercer. We were in attendance at an all-star game for 15-16 year olds, pitting Mercer against Sharon.
What a beautiful facility. When we played there, I recall only one field. I may be wrong (I usually am), but I believe there are about six fields adorning the property now -- softball fields, baseball fields, a swimming pool and just about every other activity for youngsters that you could imagine. There were concession stands, restrooms and all the other necessities that make for a great playing facility.
Makes one feel good that the citizens of Mercer have provided their youngsters with what is important in life, a place to really enjoy and to grow, both mentally and physically.
The Mercer County area has been blessed with people who have had the foresight to look ahead and develop such facilities.
Greenville has a beautiful area, new ball fields and soccer fields adorning the location. Hermitage, Sharon, Farrell, Sharpsville, West Middlesex, Grove City, Reynolds, Lakeview, Commodore Perry, Jamestown, George Junior, all of the county high schools, have excellent facilities.
Lineman wins big
Neal Lineman was one of the greatest wrestling coaches ever in Mercer County. And what made him so great was the fact that his grapplers were always in top physical condition.
That perhaps was one of the ingredients that elevated him to the zenith of high school wrestling.
Neal always practiced what he preached and once again came away with a truck load of medals won in the recent Senior Games staged at Shippensburg University.
The former Reynolds High School wrestling coach won three gold medals and claimed a bronze in four events. He's always been in top condition and it showed when he topped the fields in those three events while placing high in the others.
Excellent effort, coach.