I am not an expert, but growing up in church and working at a church and attending school events with my wife and daughters and I have had a fairly large sampling of chocolate chip cookies in my life.
One of the best parts of coming home from two epic catch-playing trips has been care packages of Ann’s cookies on the table. Ann makes the best chocolate chips cookies. Her daughter reached out to me via Facebook, “If you have any openings in your catch-playing schedule, the chocolate chip cookie lady hinted that she would like to play with you.”
It is of utmost importance to keep the chocolate chip cookie makers happy in this world. I contacted Ann and we scheduled a time to play catch once her eyes weren’t quite so dilated.
Ann has lived in Springfield her entire life except for one year of teaching in Illinois. She grew up in the country. “The city limits were 50 feet south of Sunshine.” Mercy Hospital now sits in the center of town, right where her childhood home was.
Her dad was an athlete in college playing football, basketball, and baseball. At one point, he held the record at Arkansas State for most touchdowns in a game — 7.
“I grew up a baseball fan,” she said and showed me a picture of her playing catch with her brother when she was 4 years old, dressed out in full uniform.
“My brother always wanted someone to play with and there weren’t any other kids nearby.”
The St. Louis Cardinals had a minor league team in Springfield in the 1930s; Branch Rickey worked in the front office.
“The Cardinals played at White City Park on Boonville and I am pretty sure I saw Stan Musial play there.” Several other notable players also played ball at White City Park including Arky Vaughn and Joe Garagiola.
“And then the Cubs had a team here for one season, too. In the early 1950s. Mickey Mantle played for the Joplin Miners then and he played games here.”
We looked through pictures and talked baseball and Springfield history. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we had the first riding lawnmower in Springfield. My dad had purchased one of the first powered lawnmowers, and my brother didn’t want to have to walk behind it. So he used some chain and hooked up a wagon behind it and sat on a chair in the wagon as he mowed.”
Ann’s been a Cardinals fan her whole life. She went to watch Wainwright pitch and Molina catch when the two were making rehab assignments in Springfield.
“I think the last time I played catch was with the neighbor boys. A few years ago, they were playing ball in the front yard and I joined them. The next day, the doorbell rang and the younger one was there by himself. ‘Will you play catch with me?’”
We stepped out into her backyard for today’s catch with a combined 128 years of baseball wisdom between us. I offered her the new Wilson for starters, but being an outfielder’s mitt, it was pretty large for her hands. We switched gloves and she used the George Brett model, “Now this one’s really broken in!”
After catch, she handed me a freshly baked coffee cake to take home to my family.
I will play catch for Ann’s chocolate chip cookies or coffee cake anytime, anywhere.
And with today’s game, Catch 365 is over the halfway mark.