April 14, 2003


It is April, and today’s weather warns of an imminent scorching summer. But, this is April, and that warning’s text reads 87 on the bank sign. It’s the first night of softball season, something I planned to only barely notice this year.

Instead, sucker that I am, I find myself playing for a team I do not know on the Jewish Community Center’s (JCC) Monday night league. On Saturday, I found myself driving to practice for the other team for which I did not plan to play – my friend Bonnie’s Tuesday night team. Three hours, a shin welt, a bruised toe, and a sore right shoulder later, I emptied the day’s infield dust accumulation into the bathtub (for it belongs) and thought about this strange course my summer is taking.

The summer, in my mind, was to be dedicated to training for September’s MS 150, for, sucker that I am, I have been…um…suckered into joining the not-yet-established informal-but-soon-to-be-formal cycling team made of some friends and coworkers. And, being the only female in my side of the office, it’s bad form to wimp out. I don’t own a bike, but ever since I decided that this was the summer’s goal, I’ve been doing all the non-bike training things to make this a reality. The bike is to come later this week.

I digress.

Softball. My fond memories of softball are from nine years old until twelve years old. It was in these days that I was in an all-girl league and being bigger and more developed than the other girls was a distinct advantage. I learned my first sports lesson at age nine, when Randy Paape (yes, I remember his name), the seventeen-year-old who was kind enough to coach his little sister’s team, taught me to never ever ever throw a ball at a person with whom you have not established eye contact. This was humiliating at eight, but it has many practical applications even at thirty. Oh, and Randy played on the BIG people’s league (swoon, swoon).

That year, 1981, Thumb Hyde and Fur (Thumb being the thumb of Michigan) won the Sandusky Girls' Minor League Championship. I remember the trip to Dairy Queen (a big deal in a very small town) and my Big Quencher Lemon-Lime Mr. Misty. The trophy reads:
Sandusky Girls (sic) Minor Leag (sic)

Three years later, we moved to Missouri. Missouri softball in a city is different than small-town softball. A small town lives for its sports, for there is little else to do. In Sandusky, I lived a mere three blocks from the field, which made its home in the center of the residential section of the main part of town. Driving to softball was a new phenomenon; playing on a team with little skill was a new challenge. So, at the end of the season, I was invited to try out for the all-city team or something similar. At age 12, I still hadn’t mastered (or attempted) the slide technique. I was one of three girls cut.

And that was it for softball until last summer, showcasing a twelve year-old’s skill in a thirty year-old’s body, complete with a slightly creaky arthritic knee. I’m somewhat apprehensive that I’m coordinated enough to thrive in a team sports environment when we move beyond practice into that strange state of being known as a GAME. But, still, somehow, some things remain the same from youth to adulthood. Hopefully throwing and catching remain intact. Batting’s not a problem; I was 3 for 3 tonight.

Infield dirt is still infield dirt. It doesn’t seem to matter if you mix 17 or 19 different varieties of brown-tinted fine-grained mixtures. I believe the 18th is allspice, but you’d have to ask Dominique, my husband’s cat; she likes to clean me. I know for a fact that ingredient four is sand. And, as my socks can attest, plain old dirt is definitely present in copious amounts.

Bring on the Tide commercial. It’s softball season.


Posted by hln at April 14, 2003 09:29 PM | Health/Fitness/Nutrition