I am sure I have already written some about sports in Xenia. It was an important part of our family history. My oldest son, Michael came out of the womb wanting to play ball, any kind of ball. Being a study nerd myself, and proud of it, I wanted a thin-necked, be-speckled, little geek. Although Mike was and is quite intelligent, and was a very good student, he was a born jock. His class of 1986 may still be the last class to have won the league in football, baseball and basketball, and he was a star on all three teams. His 21 year old daughter, Marrisa, told me not long ago she is hesitant to go into some places in Xenia because she is accosted with cries of ” Are you Mike Newsom’s daughter??”
My husband, Wayne, did the typical dad thing, coaching Mike in football and baseball and basketball when he was in elementary and continuing to coach him in baseball into his high school years. During those years, when the baseball season went on and on, transitioning from the cold and frost of the early school season to the heat and dust of the late summer, we met and interacted with and, yes, befriended, some people we would otherwise never have met, and a few one had to be embarrassed to know.
There was the couple, both divorced, who had found each other in their middle years who could not seem to keep their hands off of each other. They would sit in the stands and watch the games until the fires of love began to burn too strong and then they would go get in their car and , ahem, shall we say cuddle. Because their heads were not visible above the seats the cuddling no doubt took something out of them and they, therefore, had to frequently lie down evidently until they regained their equilibrium.
It would have been easier to ignore if they had not had a bad habit of getting out of the car and adjusting their clothing on their way back to the stands. Generally speaking they tried to disguise their forays into mid-day intimacy by pretending to go to the concession stand. It was rare, however, that either of them came back to the stands with anything other than a new hickey. Ah love!
He had a son who played on the same team as Mike, she had two younger children, a girl and a boy. One Saturday, at Bob Evans Fields ( where if the games went late and they started slaughtering the pigs you had to explain to the small children the pigs were making those noises because they were having a party) her son, Tommy was playing with some older boys waiting for their turn to take the field and one of the boys hit Tommy in the head with the baseball bat. A nice spray of blood ensured and all of us mothers rushed over to attend to him. This, of course, led to questions of “where is his mother?” His mother was at the time busy doing the horizontal hula with his step-father in the back seat of their car, which was parked under a tree some distance away. One of the mothers, Peggy, a total innocent, turned to the little girl, the sister of Tommy and said, ” Go get your mother!” The rest of us, more worldly moms shouted ” NO!” in unison and one of the mothers volunteered to go get the mom. We did not want the daughter, about 6 at the time to learn the facts of life in quite that manner.
Another of our co-parent couples in the baseball cabal were obviously alcoholics. Nice people, funny, jovial, salt of the earth types, but partiers to the core. They never showed up for an early morning caravan to some Babe Ruth League game in a distant town without a shaker of bloody Marys which they tried to push on everyone else, wanting some company. Their best friends, another hard-drinking couple with a son on the team, usually were the only ones who joined them. Because we had several good church folks in the group these four who I will call the Bakers and the Marshes were often frowned upon, but it did not intrude on their good time, fueled no doubt at least in part by the fact they were pretty much blotto most of the time and oblivious to the scorn directed at them by the righteous.
One year the baseball group decided to attend the Greene County Fair to celebrate the end of a successful year of baseball. We would take the kids, make a day of it. In order to do that we decided we would all pull our cars into the infield of the race track, take a picnic lunch and enjoy the races and let the kids run around, ride rides, play games and visit the arcade.
The Bakers and the Marshes rode together, packed their food together ( including a few shakers of Bloody Marys of course) and generally hung out together. We all brought lawn chairs, blankets and coolers, ready to enjoy the day and the evening at the races. Nothing like a day and evening at the Fair.
All was going well until Mr. Baker began to show the signs of having had too many of the cups of spirits that they were dispensing out of the trunk of the Marshes’ car. Because it was not legal to have liquor in the infield, or anywhere on the fairgrounds, they had been discreet and keep their drinks out of sight of the rest of us, although the increasingly slurred speech and loud talk made it rather obvious that it was not kool-aid they were going behind the car to get.
After about the third race Mr. Baker began to announce rather loudly that he had to pee. Everyone tried to quiet him down, we were kind of there as a group after all and half the town came to the Fair in those days. Because we were in the infield you could not just cross the track any time you liked, you had to wait until there was a break between races to cross, unless you wanted to risk getting run over by a pacer or a trotter.
Getting very red in the face Mr. Baker finally announced he was going to ” whip out his one-eyed trouser snake ” then and there unless he was allowed to cross the track and go to the bathroom. Mr. Marsh took him in charge after seeing all the disapproving glances he was getting from us and the other infield denizens. He drew him away from the area where most people were sitting and we were afraid he was taking him to a darker area of the infield to pee.
It turned out Mr. Marsh knew more, and was more sober, than we gave him credit for, shortly after he drew his friend away, the race ended and they were allowed to cross the track to the bathroom. The trip out was uneventful, but the trip back hit a snag. They took too long in the bathroom and the next race was about to begin, which would mean they would have to wait for at least that race and the aftermath of horses trotting around the track to cool off to come back.
They did not want to do this. Mr. Marsh, a tall blond man, decided he could jump the railing that surrounded the infield. Mr. Baker, a much shorter, mostly bald man, decided he could too. Perhaps he could have had he been sober. We saw them start across the track, not at the approved crossing spot, which was already closed off for the race, but further down the track. They jumped the fence in front of the grandstand and hustled across the track, trying to make sure they beat the starting gate car.
We saw them reach the infield, saw them climbing the railing, and then Mr. March appeared on the other side of the railing, coming up the ditch beside it. He was smiling jauntily and almost made it back to the group before he realized what we had noticed already. Mr. Baker had disappeared. Turns out he had cleared the railing, but being shorter and drunker, he had fallen into the ditch and could not get up.
Needless to say upon hearing that his injuries were only scrapes and bruises and nothing more the laughter of the group almost scared two of the horses into breaking stride. Mr. Baker not only had to be scraped up out of the ditch, because an EMT crew was stationed in the infield in case of injury to the riders, they insisted on putting him in the ambulance and examining him. His querulous voice could be heard far and wide declaring ,” It is not my head, it is my goddamn knee! Look at my goddamn knee! Leave my head alone!” The boys and girls who had come back to the infield for food, or money, got quite a kick out of the entire event. I hope it taught them that alcohol and horse racing do not go together, but I am not sure that the lesson took, it was, after all, darn funny!