First base was a mulberry tree. Actually it was a mulberry bush that was never cut. If you graze off or cut down a mulberry tree suckers grow out from around the stump. Enough suckers to call it a bush. First base was originally a bush made up of at least six sucker branches that had grown into a tree. I say at least six because only six trunks are there now. Not all suckers survive to tree hood. This “Tree With All The Trunks” as we called it was a male mulberry tree. The males put on no fruit so they tend to not proliferate without a female nearby. To this day I target the females first for removal of rouge trees. If I see berries I mark them with a red X with spray paint to remind me in off seasons which to expend my time on first.
Between first base and third base ran another number nine wire clothes line. Third base was the epicenter of Mom’s number nine wire clothes lines. One ran to a third pine east of the house. One ran to first base. One ran to the pine tree that was second base. One ran to that old walnut tree that I’d mentioned in the last post that I’d found Dad’s hammer by all those years ago. From the old walnut tree the number nine wire clothes line ran back to second base forming an irregular triangled clothes line. The old walnut tree, second base and third base (the baseball diamond pines) were the only trees with more than one line attached.
Way off on the east side of the house (the ball diamond was south of the house) stood the largest pine that was the terminus of the longest number nine wire clothes line. Halfway between third base and the east pine a two by four board about seven feet long propped up the wire. It was stapled on the top end and simply stood on the ground, with the tension of the wire holding it upright. It would lean it’s top to the east or west, never standing strait up and we would mischievously bounce on it back and forth until scolded by mother or an older sister.
One would think that with all those clothes lines criss- crossing the infield, the outfield and the foul ball zone over beyond third that we wouldn’t play baseball on laundry days. With twelve children in the family laundry day was three days a week. We would play even then. Of course the laundry was one of the best infield players there was. Short of pop flying a ball over it or grounding one under it you could never make it to first without being easily thrown out. Unless the ball was caught in the pocket of a fitted sheet or a pillow case. Then the batter had a running chance. But don’t try to slide into first, tree bases don’t budge.