It sounds trite, but I have never been ‚Äúgood‚ÄĚ in sports.
It‚Äôs okay, though. Sure, I used to feel bad about it. Not being picked until last when kids‚Äô teams were choosing up was full-blush painful. Sitting on the bench through an entire high school basketball season ‚ÄĒ my senior year ‚ÄĒ as seconds dragged by was unbearable.
But I don‚Äôt suffer anymore.
One might think my lack of coordination and sports ineptitude is no longer a big deal because, at 58, I‚Äôm no longer playing sports. One would be wrong.
Yes, folks, this spring ‚ÄĒ approximately 30 years after I last walked off a softball field in the Co-ed Congressional League on Capitol Hill, where I pitched for the Staten Island Ferries (our boss was the congressman from Staten Island) ‚ÄĒ I took the field again.
The name of my team is ‚ÄúSerenity,‚ÄĚ and we are part of a co-ed sober league. We play Sundays at Aspen Hill Park, and next week is the championships.
In other words, I have made it through almost an entire season.
They even let me play catcher every other game. (We play double-headers.) And not because they don‚Äôt take it too seriously. Face it: Every team has people who take it too seriously ‚ÄĒ no matter how much they talk about, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs only a ‚Äėgame.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Like my Capitol Hill league, this league has a rule that a team must have a minimum of two women in the line-up. Even more coincidentally bizarre (could it be karma?), the manager of Serenity has the same practice the manager of the Ferries had ‚ÄĒ two is also the maximum number of women allowed in the line-up at any given time.
What‚Äôs up with that?
As you may have gathered, ‚Äúserenity‚ÄĚ is a goal.
Today we lost a game ‚ÄĒ the one I played in. And we won a game.
Usually I get a hit when I bat. A couple of weeks ago, I had an RBI that people are still talking about ‚ÄĒ especially me.
While I was never a Jackie Joyner, I do find I can‚Äôt run like I used to, and I can only describe the feeling of trying to get to first base for the first time this season as running through waist-deep water. It was quite a shock this spring. A couple of people unable to control their laughter added to a feeling of unreality.
Today, running was not a problem. I struck out three times ‚ÄĒ all on called strikes.
As catcher, I focus completely on catching the ball so I don‚Äôt hear the umpire calling balls and strikes. So when I am up to bat and the umpire yells something that sounds like ‚ÄúHigh!‚ÄĚ I think it‚Äôs a ball. A ball that‚Äôs high.
When I was out after three ‚Äúhigh‚ÄĚ balls today, I was pretty surprised.
‚ÄúDo I go to first base now?‚ÄĚ I asked the ump.
He shook his head slowly, a hint of a sad smile. Pointed at the bench. Yet, God forgive me, I had a good time.
Actually, I know God forgives me ‚ÄĒ that‚Äôs never been an issue. It‚Äôs my manager who holds grudges.
If I were to do a scrupulous analysis, I would say I am only a marginally worse player today than I was 30 years ago, yet I enjoy it 300 times more. This is a miracle. I don‚Äôt really know why. Certainly being sober makes for richer experience for me.
On the other hand, even though we call ourselves, ‚Äúserenity,‚ÄĚ we have as many gripers and overly serious individuals as the Ferries ever did. They just don‚Äôt bother me as much. In fact, I love them ‚ÄĒ every muttering, head-shaking, toe-poking-the-dirt one-of-them.
I guess if I had to ‚Äúcall‚ÄĚ it (sports term), it must be all the stuff you pick up along the way to 58 years old.
Despite running like I‚Äôm up to my neck in mud, weighing 20 pounds more, striking out a few times in a row, having to tell a few of my teammates to chill out and realizing they listen because I am old enough to be their mother ‚Ä¶ well ‚Ä¶
I like myself so much better than I did in my teens and 20s. And I wouldn‚Äôt know it if I had not signed up to play softball this spring.
I may be the weakest athletic link in Serenity‚Äôs chain, but a link is a link. And it feels darn good.