If it seems like I've been writing a lot of glory obituaries in this space lately, it's because I have been writing a lot of glory obituaries in this space lately.
It must be a sign of my advancing age that hardly a month goes by that someone I've played baseball with or against here in York County doesn't pass away.
They're not exactly dropping like flies, but close to it.
This week, there were two: Beau Smith and Jimmy Snyder, both guys I admired a great deal for their baseball skills and for their obvious love of the game.
Beau played, coached and managed for Hellam in the Central League for many years back in the 1970s. And he did likewise in the Susquehanna League for many years before and after his Central League experience.
I don't think I've seen Beau for 30 years or more, but I remember him as being a very good player -- a catcher most of the time, if my memory serves me correctly -- and a man with a serious competitive nature. He played to win every time he stepped on the field.
As important, however, was the perpetual smile on his face. He was a happy guy. Joyful. Friendly. Genuinely funny. He'd shake your hand before and after a game, but in between he'd make your life miserable if it'd help him win.
I didn't know this about Beau, but he apparently was also a very fine golfer and a true-blue Penn State fan.
Jimmy Snyder was one of those guys -- a thorn in the side, perhaps, or a pain in the backside -- you either liked or you didn't. Most guys did. He was not the biggest guy in the world, but he had a huge heart to make up for it.
He played his entire Central League career -- 20 years -- for Pleasureville, and every day, every game, every season was a memory in the making.
I didn't play on the same team with Jimmy, except for tournaments and all-star games, but I learned as much from watching him play from the other side of the field as anyone I ever played against.
He was a first-class heckler, for example. And he could chatter with the best of them. His mouth was always open and something funny or irritating was always coming out of it. And you never knew which to expect until you heard it. I liked that about him.
Jimmy always played the role of the fly in the ointment. He was pesky. He was the last guy you wanted to see come to the plate in a close game because too often he'd find a way to make your life a living hell.
I recall playing on a Central League all-star team with Jimmy one year when we traveled to Baltimore to take on an all-star team from a league down there. The first time up, Jimmy lined a single into left field and he raced out of the batter's box, shifted into second gear half way down the first-base line and never slowed down after passing first base.
The left fielder didn't know Jimmy, so there was no sense of urgency about fielding the ball and getting it back into the infield quickly. And he paid the price for it. Jimmy motored into second base without even having to slide. A double on what should have been a single.
There was a lesson there about hustling on every play. Jimmy did that. I never saw him walk on a baseball diamond. It was against his baseball religion.
A couple innings later, Jimmy stroked another single into left field. Once again he streaked to first base, rounded the bag and glanced into the outfield to see if the left fielder had learned his lesson. He hadn't.
So Jimmy shifted into high gear again and headed for second base. This time he had to slide, but was safe. He stood up and dusted himself off. But he glanced at the outfielder as if to say, "Gotcha. Twice in one game."
Most guys hit a single and they're slowing down as they approach first base. That's not the way Jimmy played. If you weren't paying attention he'd take the extra base on you every time. The pressure was always on.
Jimmy was all out, all hustle, all the time. A banty rooster in a gray and blue Pleasureville uniform. He'd put on the brakes only when the opposing team forced him to.
What's not to love about that?
Jimmy played in more than 600 Central League games and finished with a career batting average of .324. He was selected to the league all-star team almost every year, and he was picked at every position on the field except pitcher, a tribute to his athleticism and baseball talent.
He was the league MVP in 1965, Colonial Tournament MVP in 1969 and was the league batting champ in 1968, with a .408 batting average.
Jimmy is also a member of the Central League Hall of Fame.
Like Beau, Jimmy was an avid golfer in his years after baseball, too.
Also worthy of mention, is that Jimmy coached youth baseball for a dozen years after he finished playing in the Central League, including the York Little League team that won its first and only Pennsylvania State Championship in 1980.
Both men were in their mid-70s at their passing.
Gone much too soon, but they'll both be long remembered.
Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick firstname.lastname@example.org.