kickball gang

The brave souls who participated in the 2019 Morris kickball game.

I had a lot to do Sunday. I had to work, which takes up a chunk of the afternoon, along with a few other responsibilities that had to be met that day. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for a family reunion kickball game at O'Bannon Woods State Park, the site of the previous battles from years gone by.

But thanks to my wife's urging, and telling myself all that other stuff could wait, I made time for the reunion. I couldn't stay too long, but long enough to stretch a hamstring, jam a toe and step in deer droppings.

But the fun easily outweighed the sore muscles and smelly shoes.

Pride was on the line as we took the field, this team of mine. Our team could not have been mistaken with the famous 1934 St. Louis Cardinals team nicknamed the Gashouse Gang. We were more of the Out-of-Gas Gang. That Cardinals' team was made up of characters namely Dizzy Dean, Joe Medwick and Leo Durocher. We had a Barbara, Shane and Steve.

Several of the cousins who made these past games so memorable were missing Sunday, but this was just the first year of the revived tradition. I look for more to attend next year, but the ones who did play gave it their all. And thanks to the younger generation, this six-on-six game of the century was able to commence.

Like most of our previous battles, there was more talking than actual playing, and that is what makes the games fun. I wouldn't really call it smack talk, more like cousin chatter. It's a Morris thing I guess.

It may have looked silly to see a bunch of folks with gray hair playing kickball early on a Sunday afternoon to those who passed by. A State Trooper drove past the field we were playing on, our own Yankee Stadium, and I can only imagine what he thought.

But this was just old-fashioned, clean fun. There were no cell phones in sight, only to take a group photo at the end. No time spent talking politics or whatever the topic of the day. Just clean, family fun. And while a few of the younger generation were playing for the first time, I am sure they enjoyed this one hour of kickball glory, that had more laughs than runs scored.

While the spirit is always willing, the body now does not always cooperate. My kicks don't seem to travel as far as they used to. Back in the day they would all back up when it was my turn to kick; now they scoot in, which is just wrong. And my team was soundly beaten, something like 8-1. Our only run was scored by my cousin Robin's granddaughter. She crossed home plate with a smile on her face so hey, that is what it is all about.

My cousin Larry Morris' team was young, hungry and could kick the ball a mile. I don't know how sides were chosen, but the majority of his team was under 25 years of age. While my group was a little wiser, we just couldn't get a runner past second base. But what do you expect, second base was a piece of wood, so I think we tripped as we ran toward third base. Sounds like a good excuse.

My team included the two oldest players, myself and Steve Colbert, but we gave it our best. We moaned and groaned and kept stretching our legs. They caught everything we kicked, although to our credit, we didn't kick the ball too far.

In the end the score didn't matter. We all were still smiling and laughing, or maybe it was more of a grimace than a smile. It did what it was intended to do, it brought back a lot of great memories. Whether it was a football game, rolling down a hill or the famous kickball game, my cousins always had a good time together. And while we are a few decades older, that fun continues.

Hats off to Larry for organizing the day, Robin for her tasty fried potatoes, and my wife Barbara for encouraging me to attend the reunion.

There were more important things happening in the world Sunday I'm sure. And I needed to get to work and run that errand or two. But none of that could compete with a Morris kickball game. It never disappoints and is the perfect medicine for the soul.

Assistant Editor Chris Morris can be reached at 812-206-2155 and chris.morris@newsandtribune.com.

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