Oh, for the love of memories and baseball

A person just can’t know when she’s in sixth grade what some kid in fourth grade will do when he grows up.

Heck, he probably doesn’t even know. But it’s a sure bet the memory of that time will be a big part of his decision.

Mike McGonegle was in fourth grade when a big school consolidation took kids from Newark Township of Webster County to school with Wright County kids in Eagle Grove. My first year out of a country school, where I’d always been the only one in my grade, sent me to sixth grade in Vincent, with 12 in our class.

Mike, the oldest of five brothers and a sister, children of Jim and Bonnie McGonegle, lived on the blacktop just south of Vincent.

“One of my fondest memories of Vincent is being able to ride our bikes into town and finding a bunch of other kids to play whatever sport was in season,” Mike said. “Baseball, football, basketball, we didn’t care as long as we were with our buddies doing sports stuff. That was a very good life.”

After high school graduation, he went to the University of Northern Iowa and while there started working for John Deere, staying in Waterloo after graduation “and the next thing I know it’s 40 years later,” he said. “I retired as an Ag Division Supply Management Manager from John Deere after 35 years. I have since started my own consulting firm on a part-time basis for companies in the U.S. and Canada.”

But memories of playing sports with friends so long ago chased around his mind until he pitched an idea to his college roommate, writer Robert Brownell, of Des Moines, about a book on Little League in Vincent.

“The history of Little League baseball in Vincent started with a group of dads wanting to do this for their kids.

As I remember it, Vincent kids were included in the Eagle Grove Little League system for a number of years. I do recall my dad, Jim McGonegle, Marv Inman and Leonard Olsen visiting with the folks in Eagle to discuss our participation.

I also recall the McGuire (Ira and Dolly) boys, who were all older than me, playing Little League ball in Eagle prior to my playing days. The first time I recall or have pictures of a little league team actually being from Vincent was 1960. We were the Vincent Dodgers (later the Reds).”

Memories of that experience created the book “Our Fathers Day,” written by Brownell, It’s more than a memory of playing ball in a small Iowa town. It’s a look back at what the heart holds as the best of times, a connection with dads and friends and respect and revelations.

Mike and Brownell will be at Book World in the Crossroads Mall from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday to sign copies of the book and will be at the Eagle Grove Memorial Library from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday for signing.

This book swings from the heart. Catch it.

Get that? Swings. Catch it. As in baseball.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at mcsalt@frontiernet.net.