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War was coming for ‘kids’

Hobart Jenkins fondly remembers his coach.  (Colini Mulvany)
Hobart Jenkins fondly remembers his coach. (Colini Mulvany)

It was summer of 1941 and my last year of eligibility for American Legion Junior Baseball season.

The Grizzly Gas Company was sponsoring a team for the northeast side of Spokane. Tony Lammana was our coach. He was not a big man, but his voice was. He coached drills for double plays, squeeze plays and the other things that are unique to baseball.

If one of us made a miscue he would yell “Hey kid, get your head in the game, this ain’t soft-a-ball” in his distinct Italian dialect.

He was quick to treat errors with his “Hey kid” comment, but he was also quick to give you a pop on the shoulder and a “Kid, that was good.”

I wasn’t sure he knew anybody’s name since he called us all “kid.”

We were mostly Rogers High School baseball team members. Rich Shulkin, who much later coached at West Valley High School, was our right-handed pitcher, Wes Reagan the lefty and bullpen ace, Tom Mariner at third base and Wayne Allen at first. I was behind the plate. But Coach Lammana is who I remember most.

He taught me leadership on the field and how to accept both victory and defeat.

Besides it was so much fun to play baseball. Those days were wonderful times.

Little did we know that in five months our country would be attacked and our immediate future was war.