Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bush League

Maybe it was the bit of sun leaking through the gray today, but I thought back to my two (only) proud moments playing CYO—Catholic Youth Organization—baseball when I was a kid. I had no arm so I usually played second. Never a big fan of competitive team sports, I liked baseball so much that I put up with the nerves and anxiety that came with Saturdays during the short season. I remember well the pit in my stomach watching my mom wash my jersey and stirrups. Some glory: I was playing second one day when the batter hit a sharp grounder back to the mound; the ball ricocheted off the pitcher's left leg—there was an audible thwack and ouch! from the mound—and headed directly toward me, one of those funny, weird baseball bounces. I fielded the ball cleanly and threw to first in time. I remember my manger's relieved, and probably surprised, cheers for me all too well. The thing is, I wouldn't have had a chance fielding that "screamer" if it'd missed the pitcher, though any remotely decent fielder would have. My UZR was, shall we say, meager. On another Saturday, only nine of us kids showed up on the blacktop at Saint Andrew the Apostle, and so I was guaranteed a start. (I was just as happy to warm the bench.) Sometime in the middle innings I was at the plate when the pitcher—who looked like he was already shaving—threw high and tight and socked me in the ribs. I actually "went down." But, hero that I was, I got up, brushed myself off and hobbled melodramatically to first, insuring that our team wouldn't be forced to forfeit the game. We probably lost anyway. My two proud diamond moments: blind luck and grim necessity. There were worse ways to spend sunny Saturdays.

Baseball Boy Ceramic Figurine via Etsy.

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