In the 1960s, my neighbor’s 10-year-old son, Joey Schickler, was a catcher for one of the Balboa Little League teams. He was a nice kid, but not much of a ballplayer. His younger brother, Patrick, couldn’t wait to be old enough to play Little League. Their mother remembered a time Patrick could barely walk home from school. Upon questioning, the younger Schickler reluctantly admitted that he wore his big brother’s protective cup in his underwear that day. Unfortunately, he inserted the cup upside down and his inner thighs were rubbed raw.
1975 was the first year my oldest son, Eric, played at Balboa Little League. Along with the other parents, I attended a pre-season meeting at the coach’s home. He explained two new rules: girls would be allowed to play Little League baseball for the first time and all players were required to wear protective cups. He gave a detailed account of his conversations with doctors, nurses, trainers and sporting goods store managers, but he could not find female protective cups. Therefore, the two girls on his team would have to wear boys’ athletic supporters and cups. The main memory of my son’s first year in Little League is a cute, little redheaded girl in the batters box wearing a batting helmet with her ponytails stylishly coming out of each earhole… and a pronounced bulge in the front of her uniform pants.
In 2010, the Clairemont Hilltoppers Little League hosted Sporto Vilkair (Sport Wolves), a baseball team of 11 and 12-year-olds from Vilnius, Lithuania. The Lithuanians spoke little English, but were surprisingly adept at playing our national pastime. While watching the game from behind home plate, I noticed the catcher had an unusual item of equipment. It wasn’t until he turned around that I realized he was wearing his jockstrap on the outside of his uniform like a codpiece. Between innings, I asked a young lady who was acting as translator why was the catcher wearing his supporter on the outside. As she talked with the catcher, neither betrayed any reaction to my question. The young lady matter of factly explained that the boy wore his jock and protective cup on the outside of his uniform because it was more comfortable that way.