Depending on how he threw the ball, the wall produced a multitude of reactions; pop-ups, line drives, chop suey gounders, even blistering fast earth grazers. Talking
exercise and reactive response this ball at the wall challenge was as engaging as the pitchback invention. Unlike the web-net feature though, causing the horsehide, stitched sphere to spring back at its tosser as prompted. Using the wall option mimicked a harsher reaction not at all the implying one method better than the other.
However, to the inventor's credit the pitchback was portable and far less stressful to the ball.
For a fascinated ball playing kid like Randy the one on one wall game was a serious activity of self-imposed physicality. He regularly threw day after day, hour by hour
in blissful amusement. Enhanced keenly by his rich imagination. Randy - a sidearmer pitched like Dodger ace Don Drysdale. He creating epic battles played-out in fantasy, World Series skirmishes verses Yankee pinstripe suiters such as Whitey Ford. All in his head stuff - vivid, genuine, innocent emulations of his heroes, Randy assumed those famous few including the eloquent in the moment - play by play of Major League Baseball announcers. The spoken word, real time - storytelling of Vin Scully’s voice as the up-beat Dodger spokesman even crept into these idle times of fun.
Life scoots along handily enough without our help but if daydream games run their course hours do mysteriously evaporate into thin air. Having an imagination is a good thing in your youth to whittle down chunks of time before the dinner bell bongs or as a harmless substitute for adolescent boredom. But what if there were no suitable knee-jerk reactive tool immediately available; no wall, no pitchback device? Randy had another solution on hand right in his own backyard. He could just as easily hit rocks. Not in a mischievous way or in anger either. He’d loft a rock and bat the bugger over the family fruit trees into Mr. Quigley's vacant pasture.
Just as concrete walls and asphalt streets surfaces limit the life of a baseball cover…
so goes the damage done by otherwise resting rocks hand tossed-up and swung at by old wooden Louisville Slugger bats. “And that shot is outta here, monumentally gone!” Long before Fantasy Baseball became a thing kids all over America followed their big league idols in imaginary pursuits to pass the time. For Randy, a rock ball game was equally as interesting. Depending on the time of year if assorted smallish rocks were already over harvested. Randy would busy himself hitting the discarded limes or lemons, clearing nature's natural spills with a well-practiced swing leaving his bat wafting aromatic fresh smells of dripping wet citrus smashes. He doubted Quigley ever noticed the randomly dispersed fruity discards in the mostly well overgrown weed patch of a pasture.
Occasionally Mr. Quigley rode his horse on his five-acre miniature back forty. Never off the well-trodden perimeter trail. He was with the mounted horseman's posse and had all the flashy tack riders placed on their horses for parades. And If he had ever noticed any of Randy’s hi-arching home run spoils he never said a word. You could say the backyard and the field beyond was Randy’s sanctuary, an alternate playground where a boy could get away from it all if friends or other players were nowhere to be found. He never had to be coaxed into amusing himself; it came quite naturally which had its own merit in La Mesa back then when the 1960’s were just beginning to leave their mark.