Thursday, May 8, 2008

Time to assess my baseball skills.

When I was thirteen years old, I combined with Neil Brighton to throw a one-hitter for the Red Sox of the Fisher Park Community Center league. It was some very low-rent baseball, very non-competitive, as youth baseball leagues go, but that game became different. That game brought out the competition in all of us. You see, in those days, no pitcher was allowed to throw more than four innings, or some such thing. And games were I think seven innings. Which meant that after I had thrown four innings of no-hit, shutout baseball, I had to cede the mound. Which I did, giving Neil some encouraging words like "I have a no-hitter going here. Don't screw this up". Come to think of it, I may have been a rather lousy teammate! But Neil did very well. He took the mound, the score still tied at zero, and gave up no hits through the next two innings.

The only hit he conceded was in the final inning, with our team up 1-0. A dribbler, terribly hit, that barely stayed fair down the third base line. I had been moved to third base, and I couldn't make the play at first. So really it was me giving up that hit as much as it was Neil. But I was still annoyed, because I was a lousy teammate. As I recall, that runner on first then stole second, and with two outs a ground ball came to me at third base. As the runner passed behind me and rounded third, I had all the time in the world to throw out the runner at first and end the game. But I wanted to make this an emphatic end to a beautiful, one-hit game, where no one on the other team had managed to get a ball out of the infield. So instead of throwing gently over to first, I gunned it as hard as I could, feeling that throwing a ball hard was the best way to put an exclamation point on our pitching gem. The first baseman, who was about four feet tall, and who was expecting a leisurly toss, became frightened, and he ducked and covered his head. The ball sailed past him. Over the fence into the dugout. The runner behind me trotted easily in to home with the tying run. Two walks later, the runner who had reached on my error scored on a passed ball, and the game was over. And me, still being the bad teammate, was irritated at Neil for messing up my no-hitter. And he, (in a far more justified display of annoyance), was irritated with me for costing him the game. We decided we were both right, and remained friends. But in retrospect, I was being a dick.

After that season, we were too old for the Fisher Park league, and would have had to move on to more competitive surroundings. I had discovered football in high school, and rowing and rugby and waterpolo and the rest of it. So I gave up on community league baseball for a time to concentrate on other sports at school. Oh, and school work too. Somewhat. But a few years later there was a time during the school year where baseball was the only sport, and I tried out for the high school team. I figured I barely had to try - I had been MVP of my Fisher Park League three years in a row! And I was gone in the second round of cuts. I haven't played since.

Yesterday, I tried to find my old baseball glove, because today Doc and Woody have me attending the open tryouts for the Ottawa Rapids, the new Can-Am league baseball team in Ottawa. And I searched and searched. I opened every box, every bag, everything that hadn't been touched since I moved. And nothing. Where could it be? My baseball glove used to be my most prized possession, the one thing without which I would feel incomplete! And yet, it was nowhere to be found. Fianlly, after making some calls, I discovered that I had left it at the house I lived in - two houses ago. It was still where I had left it, in the hall closet, only now it was covered in dust and grime, after two solid years of neglect and apathy. I became a little sad when picking it up, having relegated this once-supremely-important childhood item to the land of forgotten toys, where it stayed, untouched, for so many years. But I think it will be happy I brought it out of retirement for such an auspicious occasion. Later today, it will be put to use against the best Ottawa has to offer in baseball, in a league populated by former major-leaguers and almost-made-it college stars. I don't expect to make the Rapids. I mean Rapidz. I expect to be cut in the first round, this time. After all, I haven't learned many baseball skills since I was thirteen. However, I'm sure that at the very least, I have learned how to be a better teammate.

1 comment:

  1. Eric I wanted to jump on my mountain bike & come & watch ya this morning but I was to deep in work & Practice,,But Mainly to freek"n COLD,,,,,,Later,,K-Man.