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  • Bill Chastain

Getting into the Game

What is the catalyst that hooks a kid on sports? Is there some fine line or critical period when a kid either accepts or rejects athletics?

I’ve often wondered what direction I would have gone had a certain Air Force family not moved next door during my formative years.

Dale Avenue II Patrick Hogue, Todd Alley, Bill Chastain, and Buddy Chastain

Dates and seasons are scrambled when trying to remember when Col. Jerry Hogue, his wife and three sons moved into the house next to ours on Dale Avenue. I do remember being around 5 or 6 years old and having a great sense of curiosity about our new neighbors.

Col. Hogue was stationed at MacDill and flew Phantom F-4 fighter jets. Hi wife was an artist and they had three poodles. Oddly, I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast, but I can remember the names of those dogs: Henry, Blackie, and Petite.

More significant was the couple’s youngest son, Patrick, who was two years older than me. Once he entered my life it would never be the same.

Patrick was a natural leader and I was drawn to him. My play regimen at the time included army, riding bicycles, climbing trees and all that other stuff. Patrick added a new variable to the mix – sports.

My father loved sports, but didn’t push them. It took someone like Patrick to get me interested.

Under Patrick’s direction, the neighborhood kids began to patronize the dirt-laden vacant lot next to the Hogue’s house.

On hot days the dirt would puff up in clouds of smoky soot. Patrick was sole proprietor of the Hogue Athletic Complex, somewhat like Spanky used to manage the field on the “Our Gang” series. He was always the quarterback in football, the pitcher in baseball and never lost at anything. And even if he lost he figured out a way to win.

It goes without saying his two favorite teams were the Green Bay Packers and the New York Yankees. Neither lost much in those days.

After pick-up baseball games in the summer, we invariably would move inside by mid-afternoon to watch the Yankees on television (if it was a Saturday) while we played Monopoly.

Patrick’s competitiveness spilled over to game boards. If someone else owned Boardwalk and Park Place when Patrick landed on either, he could always cajole a payment plan from the landlord; we always wanted the game to continue. Conversely, if Patrick owned Boardwalk or Park Place, with accompanying hotels, he collected – even if collection meant the game would end. He knew how to win.

By the time the Hogues moved away several years later, I had become forever hooked on sports.

Perhaps getting the sports bug is a predestined fate, but I’m indebted for receiving a needed nudge.

Every kid needs a Patrick Hogue

bchastain19@gmail.com

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©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography