Two setbacks in one day hard to take/Paul Peterson
It was an early August day many years ago when I had the unique experience of suffering setbacks in two different venues.
Theoretically, there was no defeat when my Tapiola junior baseball team met Alston.
But to my way of thinking, it translated as a setback.
I had long bugged our coach, the late Don Wanhala, for the chance to pitch in a real game. But he reasoned that I could do the team more good by playing first base.
Still, I believed that pitching was well within my abilities. I had better than average speed and a knuckleball I worked on constantly.
Having watched premier Major League knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm on television, I tried to emulate his delivery. The problem was that the pitch I threw to the plate didn’t … well, knuckle.
On this day, we had a comfortable lead on Alston when Don told me to warm up. Finally, my chance on the mound had arrived.
Stats-wise, the two-inning relief stint was a mixed bag of good and bad.
While striking out six batters, I also walked six hitters and hit two others.
Instead of imitating Wilhelm, I had done a good impression of Ryne Duren, a notoriously wild pitcher for the New York Yankees.
After that unsatisfactory stint on the mound, I headed to the Sturgeon River later in the day with a couple of buddies.
Back in those days, youngsters spent as much time on the rivers and creeks as kids do nowadays on iPods or endlessly texting.
The river featured a nice rapids close to where the diversion dam is now located. It contained fish of all kinds and no trip ever went unrewarded.
Large and smallmouth bass were a prized catch because the tourists at “Hap” Aldrich’s Otter Lake resort would sometimes fork over a dollar or so for a larger fish. That was big money in an era when 10 cents bought you candy for a few days.
But there were also large crappie, perch and rock bass to be had. Even the occasional walleye was caught later in the fall.
But we seldom saw the fish the river was named after – the mighty sturgeon.
On the particular day, I hooked on to what I believed was one of the large logs that could be found all over the the river. Left by the loggers of the early 20th century, hooking on to them meant a switch of hooks was in the offing.