While growing up in the Prytania/Ridgelawn Alley in the 70’s, we played a heck of a lot of baseball. Speaking at least for all the boys, if you lived on our block, you played in the baseball games. I can only recall two boys in my age range who never played baseball in the pickup games and that was only because both were very interested in football and not baseball. On occasion kids, who were friends with one or more of us but not living on our block, would come in and play ball with us. This happened quite a lot because at least within a mile or so our block had quite a reputation for having a ball game going on every day in the small park up the street. One of these kids was named Kevin Campbell. If I remember correctly, Kevin was Tommy Mathews’ friend and I think he might even have played on Tommy & Rich’s Little League team, the team that the Mathews’ dad coached for.
When you play as much baseball with each other as we did when we were kids, you learned quite a lot about each player’s strengths, weaknesses, styles and quirks. For example, I remember that Rich Mathews was famous for base hits directly up the middle over the pitcher’s head. Randy McMahan (read me) loved a low and outside pitch that he could loft up over the right fielder’s head. Jeff Beckman was our neighborhood home run king – he had a good natural way of making connection and putting the ball into the left field street (which the Vikoski’s just hated as their yard became the spot all right-handed home runs landed). I was the kid who worked the hardest. I played in every game I could – if I was home, I was in the game. At times some of the kids would bow out of a game or two for various reasons. Not me, I got a late start having not moved into the Alley until 5th grade. I didn’t get to play in Little League so I felt I had something to prove – that I was just as good as all the other kids in my neighborhood at sports. I was, even better than some, but only because I loved it and I worked hard.
Kevin played occasionally with us for 2-3 seasons. If I remember correctly, he batted left handed and fielded right. When he batted he had a nice, smooth swing; one you might call ‘old school’ because it reminded you of watching old clips on tv. His favorite stroke was to catch one on the outside of the plate so he could place it over the third baseman’s head, down the line. This would be an easy double. What I tucked away though in my memory banks, most vividly was his fielding. He was especially strong with ground balls – his glove seemed like a miniature vacuum cleaner for baseballs. I have a nice memory of Kevin cleanly scooping up a hot one at third base and zipping the ball over to first base in a beautiful motion – and he was always smiling.
Flash forward 20 years or so to 1993. Kim and I were living in Louisiana at the time and we were both 35 years old. I wanted another child and Kim had been thinking that we were all done. After much coaxing and multiple promises from me to deliver a girl this time, Kim reluctantly agreed to a third child on condition that I would agree to a vasectomy afterwards. The following year our child was born, (another boy of course – hey, I gave her plenty of girls, can I help it if she chose a boy?), and we were told that we were being shipped back to Cincinnati by good old P&G (Pack & Go).
When we got back to Ohio, Kim persisted, nagged and ‘guilted’ me into agreeing to get the boys snipped, as I had promised to do. My wife’s a very good nurse and is always hooked into knowing who the good doctors are so I asked her what type of doctors do these surgeries. She told me that they’re done as outpatient surgeries by a urologist. She said “Doctor Campbell is supposed to be a good urologist. He went to Taft too.” (our high school).
I said, “Kevin Campbell? Is his name Kevin?”
She said yes, I think so.
“Huh, I know Kevin. I played in a lot of pick up baseball games with him as a kid. He was good friends with the Mathews.” “……I remember he had great hands.”
Oh that’s right ladies and gentlemen – I didn’t give a damn about his credentials, what school he attended, his GPA, nada. Kevin could scoop up a ground ball like Davey Concepcion and cleanly whip it over to Tony Perez at first base. If he could handle a hot grounder, then he could certainly handle a pair of scissors and a soldering iron and I could trust him with the boys!
This is in Spanish but it’s the best compilation vid I could find on Youtube for Davey Concepcion:
And so I made the appointment and with a couple of quick snips, the boys were taken out of the professional ranks and reduced to the minor leagues where they could now practice as much as they pleased, (but at a lower pay grade). This tiny episode of life closed out another minute connection between childhood and adulthood for me – another short chapter in Growing up on Prytania.
Epilogue – the description of the procedure or my conversation with Kevin, any of the preparation or follow up steps are not really all that important to the overall context of this story. Most of my readers are female so I didn’t want to try to be humorous about the actual procedure. If you or your husband are considering this, I would say that it’s a quick and easy outpatient procedure. I had no problems, no issues at all. There is no reduction in libido or any other urban myth. In fact, knowing that there is never again a risk of an unwanted pregnancy, spontaneity is increased. The sex, if anything, is better. Tell your husbands or boyfriends that growinguponprytania says to just bite the bullet and look for a urologist with great hands, one who reminds them of their favorite shortstop.
Here’s a Wiki link in case you would like to read a high level article about the procedure: