BASEBALL’S FALL CLASSIC

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Baseball season is almost over. Die-hard fans are looking forward to the coming weeks when the division pennant races begin, and the winners face off in a best-of-seven championship series. Major League Baseball’s World Series – played for over 100 years – is slated for late October. This “fall classic” is laden with nostalgia, so it’s a good time to celebrate baseball’s great tradition with a few of the activities suggested bel

  • BASEBALL DISCUSSION: Show a vintage photo of a family at the ball park. Share childhood memories of listening to baseball games on the radio or going to the ball park. Ask: Are you a fan of baseball? Did you ever play on or coach a baseball team? Which family members enjoyed listening to games on the radio as you grew up? Who was your favorite Major League team? Name some great hitters that you remember. Did you ever see any of them play at the ball park? Did you ever attend a big sports event, like the World Series?
  • RADIO HUMOR: Listen to some old-time radio baseball humor. Examples: from The Jack Benny Show – “Jack Listens to the World Series on Radio” or “Phil Tries to Collect a World Series Bet” or Abbott and Costello’s classic “Who’s on First?” routine.
  • BASEBALL OUTINGS: Share memories of visiting a popular baseball landmark, like the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory, Babe Ruth’s Birthplace and Museum, the Little League Museum, or a favorite ball park such as Wrigley Field, Ebbets Field, or Yankee Stadium.
  • WORLD SERIES: Share the history of the World Series, which began in 1903. Learn about the prize: the World Series trophy. Make predictions for this year’s series. Dress in team colors and make and hang team pennants. Challenge fans of the game to a World Series trivia game.
  • SING, STRETCH, SNACK: Sing an enthusiastic rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Park,” and do some gentle “seventh-inning stretch” exercises. Enjoy some baseball snacks, like Coke, soft pretzels with cheese and mustard, or mini corndogs. Learn about the history of Cracker Jack’s “A Prize in Every Box.”
  • GAMES: Pantomime the actions of a catcher, pitcher, batter, and umpire. Play a ball toss game, or hold a pitching contest. (Use a soft foam ball or a Whiffle ball.)
  • BASEBALL TALK: Discuss the meanings of the following baseball idioms – within sports and in general: whole new ball game, touch base with, ballpark figure, play hardball, strike out, step up to the plate, bat a thousand, drop the ball, cover all the bases, hit one out of the park, the home stretch, throw a beanball, bush-league, major league, out in left field, pinch hit, screwball, a swing and a miss, three strikes law, triple play.
  • TEAMWORK: Discuss how the following quote from Babe Ruth applies to the World Series: “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
  • VISUAL AIDS: Display the following props: samples of Louisville Slugger baseball bats, gloves and mitts, photos of Major League players with Slugger bats. Learn about the history of the Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball. Ask: What do you recall about Louisville Slugger bats? Did you or your children ever use one? Do you prefer to hit with a wooden or metal bat? Did you have a favorite piece of equipment, like a wooden bat or a glove?
  • ATHLETES & ANNOUNCERS: Look at old Sports Illustrated magazines with World Series covers and talk about the feats/accomplishments of the great athletes who have played in the fall classic. (You can find these on the Internet.) Reminisce about some of the great play-by-play announcers of the game. (Examples: Vin Scully, Red Barber, Joe Garagiola, Red Grange, Curt Gowdy, Mel Allen). Imitate Mel Allen’s signature call: “Going, going, gone!”
  • MEMORABILIA: Invite a sports memorabilia collector to talk about World Series collectibles or other baseball memorabilia, such as trading cards, autographed baseballs, or old jerseys.
  • LESSONS LEARNED: Invite some current or former amateur/pro baseball players to share some lessons about life that they learned from playing the game. (Example: Never give up!)
  • BLOOPERS: Watch a funny baseball blooper video. Share baseball jokes and humorous stories. Read some of Yogi Berra’s “Yogiisms” to your group, and ask for volunteers to explain the wisdom behind the sayings. (Examples: “It ain’t over till it’s over” and “Half the lies they tell me ain’t true.”) Write some original one-line baseball tongue twisters.
  • DOCUMENTARY: Show some “inning” episodes of the PBS documentary Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns.

Many more activities on the topic of baseball can be found in the resources listed below.

Continue to look for upcoming editions of this newsletter the first day of the month. (Themes focus on the following month.) Our newsletter contains useful information to make your job of working with older adults more fulfilling. In this issue, you’ll find the following:

  • Baseball’s “Fall Classic” Resources
  • Famous Baseball Players Trivia Quiz
  • Featured Products for September
  • Thought for the Month

BASEBALL’S “FALL CLASSIC” RESOURCES

Remember The Golden Age of Baseball? Rekindle fond family memories of America’s favorite pastime with Everyday Life Trivia, Volume 1, featuring hundreds of questions about the ordinary life of Americans in the mid-20th century. Choose from 23 topics, including Books, Dogs and Cats, Hair and Cosmetics, A Kid’s World, Mealtime, Motor Vehicles, Nicknames, Places We All Know, Rooms, Toolbox, Working, and more. The trivia quizzes provide valuable mental stimulation and encourage friendly competition. Many of the questions will spur memories of favorite people, places, and events. Here are some sample questions from the topic “Baseball – Our National Pastime”:

  • How many team members play in the field at a time?
  • What is a double header?
  • What does RBI stand for?
  • What is another name for a baseball glove?
  • What game, similar to baseball, is played in England?

Baseball, motherhood, and apple pie. Get your group in the mood for some old-time American-made memories with a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and other familiar tunes. Use the CD & book set Sing-Along with ElderSong, Volume 1. The disk features 30 old songs in low, singable keys, with vocals. Each song is led by 1-3 singers with simple piano accompaniment. The set includes a compact disk and one large-print lyrics book (with extra books available at quantity discounts). Sing patriotic favorites such as “America, the Beautiful,” “Bicycle Built for Two,” “Hail! Hail! The Gang’s All Here,” “Home on the Range,” “Yankee Doodle Boy,” and “School Days.”

Question: Do you think that America’s national pastime – baseball – has been replaced by football? Offer some topics of special interest to men (such as sports) with Barbers, Cars, and Cigars: Activity Programming for Older Men. Included in this updated resource are eight reminiscing sessions with themes such as “The 1960s,” “The World of Work,” and “Boys and Their Toys.” You’ll also find ideas for games, sports, current events discussions, food, music, service projects and other meaningful experiences. There is a chapter on intergenerational programming as well. Suggested props are listed in the chapters to encourage memories and enliven sessions. Here are some sample discussion questions from the chapter titled “Sports”:

  • What is your favorite sport? Did you participate in this sport as a child? Were you able to listen to this sport on the radio? Who was your favorite team?
  • Did you enjoy sports with your father? Did you ever have a memorable coach? Who taught you to throw a ball, swing a bat, or drive a golf ball?
  • Some professional players today receive contracts of several million dollars. What do you think about that?

Baseball umpires are called to judge whether a pitch is a strike or a ball. Offer your group some courtroom drama by challenging them to be the “judge” in some provocative, real-life cases.  You Be the Judge: True Stories to Jump-Start Lively Conversations, Volume 1, features 38 true stories, often decided in a court of law. Read, for instance, about the controversy surrounding the final game for baseball’s National League pennant in 1908 in “Baseball’s Greatest Dispute.”  Each case begins with a presentation of the facts, followed by some questions to focus your group’s debate. Which side should win? The real outcome of the case is then provided, along with some discussion questions for further reflection. Cases are brief and easy to follow. There is no right or wrong answer, and no one is required to remember details.

Sample cases in the first volume: California Clown Is Good Samaritan, Man Defends Right to Grow Beard, An Unfortunate Plea, A Dangerous Dog, Sins of a Minister, A Sleep Disorder, A Mess in the Mail, Why Goldfish? Too Close for Neighbors, A Rose by Any Other Name.

Also available: You Be the Judge, Volume 2, featuring 38 real-life cases such as Overanxious Baseball Fan, Dress Code, The Beauty and the Cop, Fashion Sense, Tabloid Trash, Golfing Hazards, Questionable Candy, The Purple Puppet.

Bring the ball game home with a pregame get-together. Energize your group and spark musical memories with the DVD Let’s Sing! Sing Along with Andy Anderson. The disk features 10 nostalgic songs from the 1930s to 1960s. The words to the songs are projected on the screen for singing along. Try these familiar tunes with your group: “Bill Bailey,” “New York, New York,” “That’s Amore,” “The Shadow of Your Smile,” and “Paper Moon.”

FAMOUS BASEBALL PLAYERS TRIVIA QUIZ

(Note: Some of the trivia quiz questions are from the chapter titled “All-Star Athletes” in the ElderSong resource Famous Folks.)

  1. Who was the first African American to play major league baseball in 1947, signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers? Jackie Robinson
  2. What team did power hitter Mickey Mantle play for? New York Yankees
  3. Which New York Yankees slugger was nicknamed the “Sultan of Swat”? Babe Ruth
  4. Which Hall of Fame pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals had a brother named Daffy? Dizzy Dean
  5. What was the nickname of NY Yankees star Lou Gehrig, who played in over 2,100 consecutive games? “Iron Horse”
  6. What was the nickname for Yankee centerfielder Joe DiMaggio? Joltin’ Joe
  7. The “Say Hey Kid” was baseball’s National League Rookie of the Year in 1951, and later became a superstar for the New York/San Francisco Giants. Who was he? Willie Mays
  8. Which New York Yankee Hall of Fame catcher played in the World Series 14 times and was known for his humorous one-liners? Yogi Berra
  9. What do the following baseball players have in common: Cy Young, Lefty Grove, Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan? All were great pitchers.
  10. What position did Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles play? Shortstop

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” ~ Babe Ruth

"Baseball's Fall Classic" written by Sue Hansen. Copyright 2014 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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