Fenway, once upon a time!
I went to see my old slo pitch softball team play the other night to watch my #3 son who plays for them, you know... how good could they be with out at least one harry.
He started about 7 years ago in right center at age 17. At that time I was the player coach and my #1 son roamed left center. I needed another guy to play outfield and although he was strictly baseball at the time he was willing to help out. He got hooked after he learned how to hit a ball lobed at 20 mph crossing the plate vertically. His assessment was, “this is like T Ball all over again, you start and end with T Ball!”
My older son moved had some knee issues and moved on to other things and I got just too old to play at a high enough level to enjoy it.
I was never a star but I had good lateral range and was a decent enough middle infielder in my day. Later I moved to third and then made the progression to left before finishing up at 1B.
One of the younger guys who now coaches the team, said’ “hey coach, you want to give me a couple of innings at first?”
I politely turned him down with thanks but… not tonight.
Silently I said,” I limped from the car to the field on my bursitic left knee and you really think I can be an asset at first?” I’d need slip on cleats and glove the size of a rowboat!
It got me thinking, I played ball from age 7 to age 57, I played every position on the field,
My Dad was my coach when I was a kid and I coached my four boys in various levels of the game. Slo pitch softball is not fast pitch hardball but the game is basically the same.
You have to throw the ball, hit the ball and catch the ball.
Sons 3 & 4 covered the left side of the infield together on their HS team
This game is a connector between fathers and sons, between friends and adversaries. I remember at age 14, striking out the kid that bullied me…twice in one game. The first on a swinging fast ball around his eyes and the second on a called third strike on a curve ball that broke over the heart of the plate. After the game he came over to me, punched me on my sore right arm and said, “you got me twice but never again, nice pitching kid” We were more or less friends after that.
And then there was a high school game in which I struck out four times without even a foul ball to my name while my teammates scored 14 runs on about 20 hits. My coach came over to me and said, “Dave, this is a team game and your team won so stop sulking and celebrate a TEAM win.”
That lesson has been repeated by me to kids and teammates a hundred times over the years.
I watched the softball game with some other “mature” former players,
our version of grumpy old men,
and we critiqued the plays as the game went on. All wishing we could still put on the cleats and drive one over the left fielders head or beat out that grounder to short or turn the blooper to shallow right into two bases or take that shot down the third base line with a slick backhand and fire off balance to first for the out…
But we are left with our geriatric conversation, “what team are we playing tonight? I can’t read the uniform from here. Blue hasn’t got one call right yet (sorry Lanz) or, where was he throwing that? Or when did you get the other knee done and how long is the rehab??
Or… how’s the ticker since the last ream job.
What’s closer, the port o john or the woods?”
Or what inning is this? The mosquitoes are viscous here tonight.
Are you guys up for beers and cigars at my house after the game?
We can bundle these memories for a big savings cause it’s a;; about bundles these days… the fresh cut grass, the sounds of bat on ball or ball on glove, the cheers for a good play and the handshakes after a hard-fought game. The sun in your eyes on a fly ball, the “look what I found” liner in your glove, the take out slide at second, the ace from left field to the plate for the out, the diving stab at a soft liner in left,,, that circus over the shoulder catch in center, It’s true that I’d rather watch football on TV but give me a live baseball game at any level anywhere anytime. Take me out to the ball game.
Yes it’s also true, oldharry has slowed up a bit, I still can strike out the youngsters with my arsenal of whiffle ball pitches but back yard rules don’t involve running the bases…it’s the equalizer, it makes me just as fast…
And what’s better, faster or slower?
Thanks for stopping by.