Sunday, June 22, 1952, was such a nice day in Spokane that Ernie Banks, months away from launching his Hall of Fame baseball career with the Chicago Cubs, would have wanted to play two. Burkhart Motors, made up of boys from West Valley High School, and Silver Loaf Bakery, representing North Central, fully intended to play two. The American Legion teams, contenders for the county championship, barely played one. And it remains, 58 years later, among the longest games, by innings, ever played. Burkhart won, 5-4, in 24 innings.
Memories fade with time, but by any measure the 1967 American Italian Club baseball season was remarkable. Many would ultimately go on to play sports in college and several played baseball professionally.
In 1955, I was 16 and a Junior at Boise High School. I was playing American Legion Baseball that summer. We played a majority of our games at Air Way park, home of the Boise Pilots of the Class C Pioneer League. The stadium was huge with long distances to the outfield fences over 20 feet high.
My American Legion story isn’t about a season many years ago here in Spokane. In fact, it’s not about me. It’s about my son, Max Parada and a truly remarkable season that ended last weekend in Anacortes, Washington at the State Championships.
I have enjoyed reading personal reflections on American Legion Baseball. I am writing this on the Fourth of July. I am thankful to the American Legion for the opportunity it provided me a long time ago.
It was the summer of 1975, Elton John was frequently on the radio between several “Disco Classics”… and the Big Red Machine (Cincinnati Reds for you youngins) was steaming to the first of consecutive World Series Championships. And down in the Yakima Valley, a young man was trying to regain his glory years as a pitcher from back when he was a Little League star.
The most memorable Legion game was the last one I played in, in 1950.
Reading these past weeks of former legion players' baseball experiences, some memories of my legion baseball playing years were rekindled.
Back in the old days, you could play Legion baseball until your 19th birthday so I got to play four summers of Legion ball on good old Al Jackson Field at Shadle Park.
Recent American Legion reminiscences about legendary Spokane Valley coach Ron Jackson and Yakima Beetles standout Dave Edler (and company) bring to mind an anecdote when Jackon’s Appleway Chevrolet got the Beetles goat.