DAVE BOHRER: Applauding street football, minor-league baseball and tubing into the sunset

Dave Bohrer / The Meridian Star

A boat tows people on a water tube through the sunset Saturday on Okatibbee Lake.

The thermometer held steady Sunday at 99 degrees. With the humidity the “feels like” temperature is 107, but that’s not what warmed my heart.

No, the source of that warmth was the four boys, age around 12 or 13, outside my window, playing football in the street with no adult supervision. It’s a sight I don’t think I’ve seen in the last 50 years since our group of friends took over our neighborhood streets.

These days four boys in the streets would probably lead to a call to police.

I’ve sadly missed unorganized sports like this. Don’t we all?

Adding to the surprise, we have no idea where these boys came from. As has been the case each summer, with similar temperatures, few people ever venture outside their house, least of all four boys to play street football.

Football, I suppose, was the intoxicant for the young lads.

The supermarket displays are dominated by stacks of Coca-Cola, corn chips and countless other tailgate supplies. Racks of Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Alabama gear greet shoppers at clothing stores. At gift shops you can purchase Roll Tide, Bulldog and other school trinkets, jewelry and home decor.

High schools began football play a few weeks ago, colleges a couple of weeks ago.

We know this because Labor Day weekend we went to Mobile, Alabama, in part to watch the Mobile Baybears host the Tennessee Smokies in a Southern League baseball game. Silly us.

One of the women in front of us, wearing her Auburn Tigers jersey beneath her Mobile Baybears jersey, provided Southeastern Conference football scores between each pitch to whomever would listen.

Bohrer pic

Dave Bohrer

Of course, she wasn’t the only distraction to the actual baseball game. The hyper boy in front of us, a member of the Griswold's Cousin Eddie family, demonstrated every dance move and chased down every foul ball from Section 102 to Section 322.

He tackled me, more football, as one foul ball lined just to my right. “Oh, you don’t want to go agin him,” his Mom said, with pride.

It went unnoticed by the blind man behind us and the usher in the aisles who practiced his baseball signs – hat, buckle, arm, bunt, indicator, steal, hit away, who knew – to no one in particular.

The usher it turns out was from Niagara Falls, New York, and couldn’t be more enthusiastic about baseball, which led to a sad story.

While invoking St. Bonaventure basketball legend Bob Lanier and thanking us for attending, he told us it was the last Saturday night home game ever for the Baybears. The Angels’ Double A farm club is moving to Huntsville, Alabama next year. The solidly built Hank Aaron Stadium, a wonderful facility that seats 6,000 will be empty. The city of Mobile has two years to decide whether to repurpose it or tear it down.

The fans apparently left the building earlier this summer. Only one concession window remained open on this Saturday night, the giant pretzels were nowhere to be found, the nachos were stale and Budweiser was being sold at a discount, $3 a can, the same as bottled water.

The Baybears were down 10-0 before scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth. The fireworks show gave way to lightening over Mobile Bay.

You can count on the sky putting on a show in the South.

Tired of being cooped up by the heat, for excitement Saturday night we drove the 10 minutes over to Okatibbee Lake to watch the sun set. It did not disappoint as it glowed red and turned the lake pink as a speedboat pulled people in an inner tube behind it.

Apparently there’s more sport than football in the South if you look for it.

Ah, the boys gave up on the street game. They melted away into some house, but I think they all won.

Dave Bohrer is editor of The Meridian Star. Email him at dbohrer@themeridianstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @DA_Bohrer.

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