December 18, 2018 By Richard Youngflesh

Missed Opportunity

It was early fall of 1940 and I was in the third grade of James Witcomb Riley School, a rural elementary school on the outskirts of Richmond, Indiana, my hometown. Richmond is only 65 miles from Cincinnati, Ohio. All of us at Riley were rabid Cincinnati Reds baseball fans.

That year the Reds had an excellent team. Bill McKechnie was the manager, the McCormick brothers, Frank and Mike, Lonny Fry and Ernie Lombardi were terrific batters and Bucky Walters and Johnny Vander Meer were outstanding pitchers. In fact, Johnny Vander Meer had pitched two no-hitters during the regular season. The Reds won the National League pennant with ease and were in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers.

For some reason, the third game of the series was played in Cincinnati starting at 1 p.m. on a weekday. The series was even at a game apiece at that point. When my class returned from lunch that day, the vice principal met us at our classroom. She said, “I know you boys are Cincinnati Reds fans. You may go to my office now, tune my radio to the game and root for the Reds.” We couldn’t believe our luck. All seven of us trooped off to her office in great excitement to listen to the game.

It was the bottom of the third inning. The Reds were down two to one but had runners at first and third with only one out. It was a tight situation when the bell rang for recess. It was an exciting game but no one misses recess. All seven of us jumped up knowing that we could get caught up with what had happened when we returned.

Fifteen minutes later, the bell rang to resume classes. We trooped back to the vice principal’s office only to be met by the vice principal. She said, “If you boys don’t care enough about the game to miss recess, you are not that interested in the game. Go back to class.”

We were stunned. No one had said anything about missing recess. This was changing the rules in the middle of the game. Since that time, I have never really trusted anything a teacher has had to say.


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