I've been waiting to post my recap of the baseball tournament until I got a copy of the team photo wearing the jackets we won but it still hasn't found it's way to me so I'd better get this down before I forget all the details.
As I said before, I hung up my ball cleats and glove about 6 or 7 years ago after about 20 years of slo-pitch. My last couple years were riddled with injuries and then my Dad got hit above the eye while pitching in a family game and I really started losing my nerve. For years I had played 3rd base and pitched where good reactions are essential to avoid serious injuries. So it was with great fear that I stepped out onto the ball field again.
I had stayed away from the ball field completely for the first couple of years and this summer I started going to watch a few games and had the feeling that I really wanted to try it again. It looked like so much fun. My friends Nicky and Howie played on a mixed team and they were going to put a team into a nearby tournament and asked if I would mind being a spare. I agreed but kept saying that I didn't want to be counted on to play all the games because I didn't know if I was still GOOD at it. And I hate doing things I'm not good at.
We went to the ball field a couple nights prior to the tournament to see if I could still hit, run, catch and throw. The first practice I was HOT! I was hitting and throwing like I'd never stopped playing. Until the muscles decided that they really preferred to be lazy and decided to revolt. The second practice was so much less spectacular. I could hardly lift my arm above my shoulder let alone throw the ball. At this second practice they told me that they needed me to play full time on the weekend and being the giver that I am, I said I'd be there for them.
Saturday morning dawned, scratch that, I had to get up BEFORE the dawn, a foggy mess. Our game was at 8am and we had to be there a half hour before the game. Well, at least those of us who take rules seriously had to be there half an hour early. I left home shortly after 7am and found my way through the fog to the field. The good thing about following rules is that you get a great parking spot. The rest of my team showed up at 7:50am. I spent the time stretching and trying to psych myself up for what was to come.
My first at bat was scary. I stood in the on-deck circle wondering WTF I was thinking when I agreed to play. At least there was nobody in the stands to laugh at me. I stepped up to the plate and let the first pitch go by. It was three pitch, which means that you pitch to your own team and only get three pitches, so letting a good one go can be dangerous. I needed to settle in and get ready. The next pitch was good so I swung hoping to at least get it past the pitcher. Imagine my delight when it headed out into left-centre and not into anyone's glove. In hindsight I may have been better off if it had ended up in a glove. It would have saved me large amounts of pain.
At the crack of the bat I tried to launch myself toward first base but realized that I had to crawl out of the hole that previous batters had dug at home plate. The ground was soft, like running on a beach. Now I've never been a particularily speedy runner. I'm built for comfort, not speed. *grin* I ran as fast as I could to first and made it there safely. Somewhere along the way I felt a burning pain in my left cheek. As I stood there waiting for them to put in a courtesy runner for me I rubbed by butt and hoped the pain was temporary. When no courtesy runner showed up to run for me I realized that I was going to have to run ALL the way around the bases. During my previous ball career, I'd always been given a runner because of my less than blazing speed. However, on this team, I was not the slowest so therefore, no runner for me.
The batters after me moved me around the bases, one base at a time thankfully, and I ended up crossing home plate. With a still burning butt cheek I grabbed my glove and finished the game. I was completely suprised that I ended up on base with every single at bat. By the end of the first game I was ready for a hip replacement and a soft place to sit.
There was a pancake breakfast across the highway at the senior's hall and the whole team was going for breakfast. I seriously thought about driving over but the teasing was too much so I sucked it up and walked. At the highway they almost had to stop traffic in order to give me enough time to cross two lanes. I seriously considered staying at the senior's hall with my peers rather than going back to the ball field but my pride made me go back for more.
We played three games on Saturday. Each one more painful than the last. During the afternoon game I hit a double and had to run all the way to second without.a.break! Then, as I was standing on second gasping for air, the batter behind me hit a long ball and I ended up having to run home without a mandatory rest break. Talk about your amazing races.
Between the games I sat as much as possible but every once in a while I had to get up and walk so that I didn't completely cease up. It was a blast even though I was feeling every single year of my age. Everyone was telling me how impressed and proud they were that I was playing so well and sticking it out. Bastards. *grin*
We won all our games on Saturday and got home around midnight. Our first game on Sunday wasn't until 10:10 so we got to sleep in a little. After the first game on Sunday morning I was really starting to wish that we could just lose a damned game. We were hot though and were cleaning up on the field. Our centre fielder was unfreakingbelieveable! He has blinding speed and would dive for the ball and pretty well always came up with it in his glove.
There were four local teams playing. We weren't one of them even though we did have some fairly strong ties to the community we were playing in. Even so, for some reason, we were the team that everyone seemed to be cheering against. I don't really understand it. We were a fun team to play against. We didn't argue calls, we weren't rude or obnoxious. We cheered on the opposing team when they made a nice play. Still, nobody in the stands seemed to be cheering for us except Nicky's Mom and Dad. Nicky and I talked about this later and wondered (hoping it wasn't the case) if we were unloved because the team was mostly composed of native players. I have to admit we were a pretty motley looking crew and the team had intimidated me a little before I played with them. But, after playing with them I found them to be a very fun, supportive bunch. I really hope it wasn't the Indian thing.
We ended up having to play three games on Sunday including the final game. By the time I made it through the second game I asked the team if I could just write them a check for the amount they could possible win and we just call it a day. They wouldn't go for it.
I was seriously hurting. My legs felt like jello. I was giggling all by myself about silly things. I was so tired and sore. But every time I went up to bat I felt a little better and hit that ball as far as I could.
We won the final and none of the fans came by to congratulate us. Oh well, we won and they didn't. *giggle*
The team was a fun bunch. They scared me a little before I got to know them but they were all so encouraging and supportive that they made me feel like part of their family. I'm glad I did it. It was something I would have always wished I'd done if I had wimped out. With that being said, my cleatless feet are now planted firmly on the retired bench.
One well used right handed ball glove, one bloodstained right handed batting glove, one pair of size 8 cleats and numerous bats and ball bags.