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Big League!

I was born in 1955 in Willows, Ca, a small rural farming community, and fast pitch softball was thriving. Every community small and large had a team, a league, traveling teams, and everyone of them were "cleats high" competitive.   From my earliest childhood memory I can recall going to baseball fields once, twice sometimes three times a week as my dad played fast pitch softball. 
The  picture on the left shows three Bettencourt brothers, left to right Clyde, Frank my dad and Richard  playing on the Clark's Drug fast pitch softball team in Orland,Ca., 1950.  

The photo on the left is in Cottonwood,Ca. 1937, pictured are the same brothers only 13 years earlier Left to right, Frank, Richard, Clyde and their mother, Sophie.  Life was never easy, but they made sure they had fun, and baseball was the best. My dad on the left, my two uncles in the middle and my sweet loving grandmother on the right.  In the photo you can also see a portion of an old school ball glove on my dad's left hand.  In the 1950 photo above, not visible on my uncle Richard's left hand is the same style glove.  

I always looked forward to my dad's games. It was my chance to be away from my older siblings and an opportunity to play with other kids my age.  My favorite kid's baseball game was playing pickle. It was great fun to actually role play real baseball, and we did it for hours.   When I wasn't at a ball game, I would be at home either playing catch with my older brother or playing a game of four kid baseball in the cow pasture, complete with cow paddy bases, dried of course.  

If my siblings weren't around, I would toss the ball as high as possible and practice catching it, never boring for a kid.   Another catch and throw game, rotten eggs found in the hay barn made a great game of toss, catch, and take a step back, repeat, really helped emphasize the importance of  soft hands, or else.  Being raised in the 1960's on a dairy farm four miles from town, kids when not working learn how to entertain themselves or find mischief. 

My first memory of little league I was 10 and in right field. A ball was misplayed by the second baseman. Seeing where it was hit I charged to back up the play, ended up making the play on the ball stopping all runners in the process. My coaches liked what they saw, and I was now the new second baseman.  I had many fun years playing little league, was able to play with the same group of kids and same coaches the entire time.  Because the small town I lived in then is still the same small town I live in today, nearly everyday I see one or two of the same kids on my team or the kids I played against. Only fifty years later. 

Elk Creek, Ca, 25 years later,  1975  left to right author, Jim Bettencourt with my dad, Frank Bettencourt Jr. and my brother, Frank Bettencourt III.  

 Roots of baseball-softball Americana

Below Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig Marysville Ca. 1927 exibition game after the murderers row World Series winning season

Below Marysville Ca.1900 Baseball team

Below Quincy Ca. 1914 Baseball Team