Cleaning a closet unlocks a flood of memories, hats

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By Jeff D'Alessio

Who knew cleaning out a closet would unleash a wave of memories?

I didn’t, until I started coming across things such as plaques and awards. But mostly, recollections came from baseball hats I once wore.

The top of my closet was stuffed, so much so there really wasn’t much room for anything else.

I should have counted how many hats I had up there. I know for certain it was more than 10 from many stages of my life in the last 10 years.

As someone who coached baseball, I had hats from All-Star teams and travel teams. And I had a lot of them.

I took a little time with many of them. One of the first hats I found was a navy and red one with an “E” in the middle on the front, “Red” on the left side and “Sox” on the right.

That was the first travel baseball team I coached when our son was 7. That is when the game was simple and a lot of fun. I started thinking about a lot of the boys on that team and their parents. Some remain our dearest friends.

They were little guys with big dreams, chewing sunflower seeds and sleeping in the backseat on drives home.

I pulled out hat after hat, followed by memory after memory. Gray Shock hat, white and gold Shock hat, black and gold Shock hat, gray and black Shock hat. Our travel team, the Shock, had a lot of hats, obviously. Bruins hat and Red Sox hats. I even had a Reds hat stuffed back in there.

Among the other items I found were two things I cherish. A certificate from the city of Shelbyville, dated Oct. 16, 1986. It recognized the 13-year-old Kentucky state baseball champions, a team I coached and a true state champion, unlike today where the state is divided in half.

We defeated teams from all over the state, including a Fern Creek team that would end up having two or three Division I players as well as a Major League pitcher in Trevor Miller.

I still can rattle off our starting lineup, 27 years later, and think of that group of kids and parents often.

And there was a first-place award I won in 2000 from the Kentucky Press Association. I have been fortunate as a writer to win many awards over the years, but this is the one that matters the most to me. It was a story about how I took my son for the first time on a walk on the baseball field I grew up on and the memories I have of playing the game I love on a field that meant so much to so many of us.

I also had a few golf towels, change rollers, ties — I wear a tie about once a year — and baseball scorebooks crammed up there.

I threw out many things last week. What I kept were several of those hats and with them, memories of days gone by. I have to admit, it put me in a sad state for a little while.

You just don’t realize, with life zipping by, when many of the best moments in your life are happening. But they are never really gone. Thirty minutes roaming through a closet is proof enough for me.

Jeff D’Alessio is news editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.