I wasn’t much of a hitter, but boy, could I run.

It was the 1960s in Skowhegan and the neighborhood kids gathered to play baseball.

The older ones were captains and got to pick teams.

It was thrilling to be chosen by Mary, a neighbor who was several years older than I and treated me like I was a valuable player, though assuredly I was merely average.

In those days, we had to stomp on the tall grass to make the field suitable for playing and used slats of wood for bases.

We borrowed our brothers’ gloves and bats which typically were too big for us but we didn’t let that hinder our enthusiasm.

We played until we were exhausted and headed home with dirty limbs, scraped knees and sometimes minor injuries, as when I got popped in the forehead with a ball.

My three brothers played baseball in school and were good. We were proud to watch them perform and see the girls swoon over the players. It was a big deal, being the sibling of a star.

During baseball season, kids talked a lot about players like Carl Yastrzemski and traded baseball cards, both at home and in school.

Our television was always on when the Red Sox played over the years. My father and the boys always watched but I never was much interested until excitement began to build as World Series time approached.

Football never excited me, golf was boring and I never understood the game of basketball.

But there was something about being in my parents’ home in later years, long after I moved away, during the World Series while my mother, a rabid Red Sox fan, and my father, who also loved the team, were watching, the sounds of cheering and chanting from the crowds audible throughout the house and my mother talking to the players like she was their parent, coaxing, cajoling, cursing, scolding and praising them.

“C’mon, Pedroia,” she’d shout, “You can do better than that.”

My father was a good baseball player himself. When he was young, he played semi-pro ball and was invited to spring training with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1940 but was practicing in Georgia when the telegram was en route to his home in Durham, Maine, during a big snowstorm and he never got it. I wonder whether I’d even be here today, had he taken a different course in life.

After my father died eight years ago at 92, my mother continued loving and following the Red Sox, even after she was too frail to climb the stairs and slept in a hospital bed in the dining room where we placed a large screen TV at the foot of her bed.

No matter where you were in the house, you could hear her swearing at a pitcher who didn’t perform to her expectations, calling him by name and reprimanding him as if he were right in the room with her.

It will be four years in January since she died at 92, but when World Series time rolls around, I can picture her there in that hospital bed, propped up by pillows next to the cat and knitting furiously as she declared her approval or distaste at a particular player’s moves.

My interest in baseball isn’t anywhere near as acute as was my mother’s, so I surprise myself around this time of year when I say I’m not going to watch the World Series, but find myself doing so, even though I don’t know the players and feel as if I’m an outsider looking in.

I watched the first 10 minutes of the Red Sox’s first game last month against the Dodgers and went to bed. By the third game, my interest began to pique. I started getting to know players’ names (I delighted in saying aloud ‘Mookie Betts!’) and like my mother, talked aloud to the television until 1 a.m. when, tired and bleary-eyed, I hit the sack.

I knew I was addicted when, just before sunrise, I got up and maneuvered my way through a dark house to the living room to check my phone to see who won.

By the final game, I was a crazy fan, hooting and hollering into the night when the Sox scored, despite the fact that we had company asleep in our guest room who surely thought I had gone bananas.

At that point, it all came back: I was a girl running bases around that grassy field in the ’60s, the neighborhood kids cheering; I was in my parents’ house, the stomping and chanting from Fenway Park blaring out over the TV airwaves; my folks, exclaiming their praise or disapproval.

For a few precious days last month during the World Series, we had a reprieve from the nastiness and violence that has pervaded our lives. We got to remember it wasn’t so long ago that we were in a saner world, enjoying a tradition our country loves and cherishes. We were happy, hopeful, fun-loving — and united.

Would that we could go back — to all of it.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 30 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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