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Play Ball, Despite!

Trivia Question

What was the name of the young boy in The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin?

Play Ball, Despite!

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Baseball diamonds in our communities will be silent this spring due to the social-distancing requirements of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But back in my Good Old Days, ball diamonds were like busy little anthills, crawling with youngsters eager to play the game during this time of year. As soon as the snow melted and spring rains subsided, boys and girls formed official and nonofficial teams and headed to the ballpark. The school baseball diamonds were always quite impressive. Thanks to the efforts of the athletic departments and parent volunteers, the infield ground was repeatedly dragged, the outfield grass was meticulously cut and the baselines were precisely striped so America's pastime could begin anew in our little hometown. We even had a massive, covered-bleachers section that still stands today (and is now marked as an "historic" structure).

I played softball for many years, even beyond college. I've played on many top-notch diamonds. But by far my favorite place to play was in our own backyard. The river bottom behind our garage was the perfect setting for a baseball field. It was not as pristine as the school field, but it wasn't an amateur sandlot concoction either. My brothers, cousins and neighbor boys made sure of that. They repeatedly dragged it (with my dad's tractor and an old rusty bedspring), the outfield grass was meticulously cut (again, with my dad's tractor) and the baselines were precisely striped (with some lime from my dad's garden supplies). The bases were authentic too -- even though they were the worn-down, discarded ones from the school.

Those ball diamonds were the background for many wonderful spring and summer memories in my Good Old Days. And perhaps they were integral to your Good Old Days too! So, despite the current situation, how about we all dust off our gloves, find a baseball and ring in the season with a crack of a bat?

Letís "play ball," America (even if it's in our own backyards right now)!

'Til next time,

Mary Beth Weisenburger,
Good Old Days® magazine

PS. Did you play baseball -- organized or neighborhood, sandlot-style -- in your Good Old Days? We want to hear about it! Send a brief response to me at, and it could appear in a future update or in Good Old Days magazine! Here are several email responses from the April 1, 2020, update question: Who was the prankster in your family in the Good Old Days? Is there a legendary prank the whole family still talks about today?

Wendy Emlinger wrote: "I did something similar to Mary Beth's dad's prank. It was my little sister's 13th birthday, and as the older sister, I did all the baking in our house. She and her friends were on the patio when I brought out a nicely decorated sheet cake and placed it on the picnic table. After she blew out the candles, like Clete in Mary Beth's story, she had an awful time when she tried to cut the cake. She was still smiling, but looking bewildered as she cut a chunk out of the 'cake' and discovered it was a rectangular piece of plastic foam. Everyone, including her, burst into laughter. Once we all recovered from the laughing fit, I brought out the real cake, which cut quite easily and was very tasty. We still talk about that one birthday when I pranked her."

Roberta Clayton recalled: "The pranksters in our family were both my dad and my older brother. Just one of the many involved me. It wasn't funny at the time, but as years went by, I was able to laugh about it. I was 5 years old and my brother was 8 at the time. Our bedrooms were upstairs across the hall from one another. For nights I would wake up screaming due to a monster in my room. It was black from head to toe and had shiny eyes. Finally, one night, my dad hid in a small room between us and he caught my 'monster.' It was my older brother. He had on my dad's firefighter coat and was using two flashlights for eyes. Rather clever for an 8-year-old."

Mary Beth Weisenburger has been with Annie's since April 2011. She has 25 years of experience in the marketing, advertising and publishing fields. In addition to her job as editor of Good Old Days, she has been writing a family humor column for over a decade. She and her husband, two college-age kids, two dogs and various other critters live on five acres in the country, where she enjoys reading on the back porch, refinishing furniture, feeding the birds and digging in the dirt of her perennial gardens.

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Trivia Answer

Rusty. In the Western, the orphan Rusty (Lee Aaker) and his trusted dog Rin Tin Tin were adopted by the calvary at Fort Apache in Arizona. The show aired from October 1954 through May 1959.

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