And there used to be rock candy
And a great big Fourth of july
With fireworks exploding
All across the summer sky
And the people watched in wonder
How they’d laugh and how they’d cheer
And there used to be a ballpark, right here.
In those days there weren’t any of them watching in wonder, sometimes 15 to 20 people at a game.
The field was in a low spot and West Virginia being what it is, it would be cold and it would be rainy. In fact, as Antonik pointed out, someone once asked Ramsburg what he would like to have most — a hard-throwing lefthander, a power-hitting corner outfielder, a soft-handed shortstop or a fleet center fielder.
His answer? “Sunshine.”
There were no locker rooms, Ramsburg storing the team’s equipment in his own car and mowing the field with his own lawn mower.
And that’s what they called the good old days.
But, you know, somehow it meant more, and as the program grew and Ramsburg won his 433 games, it grew into a ballpark, the kind where the kids began to come out to again, the ballpark that has been revived over these past two years under coach Randy Mazey.
What you see now is people, 600 up to 1,500 of them, many of them kids, young kids with their mom or with their dad or with their Little League team.
It is different than the football crowds and different than the basketball crowds. There isn’t a student section, no cheerleaders, yet they have their own fun, standing and singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch.
Or you see them back there away from the chain link fence, playing catch, father and son. It is a piece of Americana, just as are the peanut shells that are left for the cleanup crew when the game is over.
This weekend is the last and the games are important, WVU on a hot streak, winning six straight, standing even at 7-7 in the Big 12, pushing to make the NCAAs, and the opponent is Texas, a giant in college baseball circles.
Three games, and then it’s over.
The new ballpark will take over, which brings us to the last chorus of Sinatra’s song:
Now the children try to find it
And they can’t believe their eyes
‘cause the old team just isn’t playing
And the new team hardly tries
And the sky has got so cloudy
When it used to be so clear
And the summer went so quickly this year.
Yes, there used to be a ballpark, right here.
Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel