During my life, I’ve had the true honor of being able to be part of Little League Baseball at 2 very different, but very unique baseball facilities.
One, Hamlin Field in Akron, Ohio, where I played in the mid 1960’s. And two, Thomas Park here in Auburn, In., where I coached for many years during the 90’s & 2000’s.
Speaking nostalgically about my youth, it was truly a different time and place. From early Spring, to late Summer, the world revolved around Hamlin field. At that time, there were 6 “major league” teams. You had to try out. Unfortunately, many kids were cut, something that you don’t see today. I was cut the first time that I tried out after my third grade year in school. I was so devastated, that I didn’t try out the next year. Then after my fifth grade year of school, I tried out again, made the Dodgers, and played 2 years in the “majors.”
Even though the Dodgers had two sixth place finishes, some of my best memories from childhood focused on those 2 years of Little League baseball.
When my sons started playing here in Auburn, I got involved in coaching. I derived just as much enjoyment, if not more, from coaching as I did playing. I certainly look back with a sense of accomplishment on how many young lives that I hope to have touched in even a small, positive way.
Unfortunately, they stopped playing baseball at Hamlin Field in Akron many years ago. It’s now just a weedy, grown over field sitting next to the Hamlin Steel Co. Part of it is also a parking lot.
With the new Rieke Park in Auburn, Little League Baseball moved away from Thomas Park a few years ago. Some teams still practice there, but I’m sure that in a few years, it will go the way of Hamlin Field in Akron.
So many great memories, so many great times. Rest in peace Hamlin & Thomas.