Baseball. I have always had this thing about not liking baseball. I don’t know why or where it came from but I always felt it was a sport that was uninteresting to watch or to play. As a kid I played soccer, I ran races with my parents, I played basketball and volleyball in high school, shinny hockey, racquetball, golf, you name it, but baseball was, well, “meh”.
Three weeks ago we received an email at the office asking anyone who wanted to play in a ball tourney at the annual company picnic to respond that day. I don’t know what came over me but I clicked “reply”, typed the words “I’m in” and hit send. An hour later I thought “why did I do that?” followed by “there is always a waiting list, I can back out”. I didn’t.
One week ago I dug out my ball glove. It’s only a year old as my son’s decided out of the blue last fall that they wanted to play catch and I ran to the local sporting goods store and bought a few gloves, bat and balls. I oiled it, wrapped it around a ball (just because I didn’t like baseball doesn’t mean I didn’t own a glove and know how to form it when I was a kid jeesh…) and stuffed it in a shoe bag. Tuesday this week it went into my luggage.
When I arrived at the park, we did the mandatory eating and chatting thing and as expected some guy I didn’t know identified me as a player on Team Red and asked if I wanted to throw a few to warm up. Having not played ball with anyone but children my entire life I had a minor panic, I don’t like looking like a dope in public, but instead grabbed my glove and started tossing the ball around. Blissfully the other guy was the one dropping balls and missing catches. This was starting to look up.
Note, I go to the gym a fair bit. My arms are not skinny little noodles. My legs are prime grade A Canadian beef. I have in the past however been that kid who took a ball in the face, ducked rather than caught a fly ball, tripped and crashed trying to run to first base and yes, threw my bat by accident after I made a hit. This initial warm up was not disconcerting me but past baseball related incidents hung over me like, well, a big heavy bat.
The warm up progressed as people showed up. My team had a fair number of people on it that actually play ball so the throwing was not soft and friendly. I was informed that this tourney was actually quite competitive and I frowned inwardly, but kept catching and throwing and running sprints with the rest. My lack of initial unintentional comedic errors was pleasant but completely worrisome.
I kept smiling, grabbed a few water and we all headed to the diamond.
Game 1: I was stuck in centre field. I caught balls. I threw them to bases without bouncing them on the ground. I batted three times, hit each time and on the final I batted in two people on second and third and the inning ended with us as victors.
We moved on.
I hit each time I was up.
We won the tourney.
We went for beer(s). Addled after two my mind pushed into the “ I could do that as a new sport to replace soccer” zone. I made it to my hotel room and thought before I shut off the light “ this was a good day”.
I woke up sore. More sore than I have been post-sports in years.
One day later, I awoke even more sore but with a new appreciation for baseball. Also a realization that maybe, just maybe, I will keep it in my back pocket as a potential future thing to do but will just keep going to the gym.
Baseball isn’t all that bad. I sit, sore, and corrected.