“Amongst Some Special Men”
Our faces were young and mostly free from hair. We were a team of man-kids who happened to have the skills which grown men would probably not ever reach as adults. We were a high school varsity baseball team who was about to establish a national record of forty-three consecutive wins; right here in our great city of Los Angeles. I was lucky enough to become a successful, physically and mentally endowed, relief pitcher who happened to have a perfect record while participating for our team, Dorsey High School, during the greater parts of 1951 and 1952.
Just as an immodest point of fact, during those two years of pitching for our varsity baseball team, I never lost a game. What my teammates and I had in common was indeed very special; we had a continuous flow of proud moms and dads finding ways of coming to games each Tuesday and Thursday of the week to yell, scream, and pump their high-fives at one another. Oftentimes, many of the student body, who might never have shown up to root for a baseball team, began to accompany their parents in order to take a noticeable place in what had grown into quite a sizeable cheering brigade of take-no-prisoner type fans.
It should not come as a shock to hear that many of us began to become a little too enamored with our so-called stardom — especially when some of our fellow students began to show up to watch us practicing or competing with some college guys who were recruited by our coach in order to push us to a higher level than high school athletes might provide. The fans I enjoyed seeing the most at our practices were the coed seniors. Let the dugout kidding begin: “Hello, Harvey” or “Oh look, there’s Harvey”. My buddies were doing what kids do, making fun of one another while staying loose and focused. And make no mistake, we all stayed focused seven days a week, including holidays. What we all had in common were parents and friends who understood how important family, friends, and respectful social habits were to our success and continual motivation.
Note: Our American Legion team, following our high school antics, won the national championship in 1952. At the time I had graduated and was playing for Santa Monica City College, and was in the process of signing a professional contract with the Chicago White Sox. My childhood dreams appeared to be coming true.
“GOD PUTS ON THE BRAKES”
It was during the year 1952, playing in a semi-pro winter league game while coaching at third base, I was hit in the face by a batted ball. This accomplished two separate things during the one incident of the injury. It ended my childhood dream of becoming a professional baseball player and moved me into joining my new team, the United States Army. I was soon to be off to South Korea.
By Harvey Kalmenson