As anyone who has known me for any time at all, you know that this old man is a softball fanatic, a wily veteran of the game with skills that match the many years of experience I have playing the game. My skill level almost matches my ego, but not quite. In the past year, the coach of the my team decided that he needed someone with my level experience to play first base and, after my then fifty year old throwing shoulder decided to rebel against the abuse I was literally throwing at it, I moved from third base to first.
It was a good move. My experience really has paid off, to the tune of an undefeated season this past Spring/Summer. Our shortstop throws wild and very hard, so it really does take someone with my experience to catch his unpredictable throws — in the dirt, over my head, up the baseline, out in right field. You can’t be afraid to get in front of a screaming hard ball that is going every which way. My shins have goose eggs on each from blocking some of the throws in the dirt, but I have managed to play the position at a level that has made me the go to guy. My skill level really does match my ego.
As the team’s first baseman, our shortstop likes to warm up with me before games, zinging hard throws at me as his arm loosens up. His throw rise the harder he throws, something that is often a detriment when he makes a long throw, but I’m used to it. I enjoy not only the challenge but also the opportunity to “encourage” him when he makes a throw that tests me. That too is my responsibility as the wise, or at least wise cracking, old man on the team.
Kenny was in typical form last night as we played catch before our first game. Our game was a 7:30 game, right at dusk and when the field lights were turned on, a perfect evening for softball. Junior league football practices were finishing up in the outfield, mothers were picking up their children from soccer practice, using the asphalt walkway next to our field. One particularly fetching mother, a tall blonde with long legs and very admirable form, caught my eye as she walked by in her tight black pants, pushing a stroller.
Kenny let loose a whopper and it rose just before it hit the top of the webbing of my mitt. Even I could hear the pop as the ball met my cheek bone. That’s what I get for paying too much attention to the cheeks passing by, I guess.
I’m OK. Next week I am going to play catch on the part of the field where I can’t see the spectators walking by.