As part of the Baseball Fanatics campaign I’ve been asked to share a favorite baseball story with my readers! While this is a little different than my typical blog adventures on running, I have had fun reminiscing about the days on the field. And as we soon are heading into playoff season you should consider ordering some of your favorite baseball apparel on the Fanatics site–they have some pretty awesome vintage items available which brought back some memories of my favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies–plus the site name is so close to the Philly Phanatic in name, how could you not love it!
Batter Up! Ask anyone in America what those two words mean and you are certain to hear baseball and America’s favorite pastime. And if you ever played the sport growing up those words have even more meaning. From being on deck to walking over to the batter’s box, there’s only one thing going through every batter’s mind–Don’t strike out!
I played softball from third grade through my sophomore year of high school. And even though many years have passed since those Little League days, I still remember those games like they were yesterday. I may have grown up over the years—from Russell’s Little Foxes, to Bud’s Market, to the Tri-County Oilers, and the Woodstown Woodies, and later the AAMC Scrubs and First Baptist Bombers–but no matter what age I was playing this sport, I always wanted to catch the ball, hit the ball and get on base. Those years on the field were a time of growing up and learning how to be a strong woman who can play well with others and prove that size and strength are not all that matter in this game.
One particular memory I have is from my freshmen year of high school. We were quite the rag-a-tag bunch of gals. Many never played before and as for those that did, well we weren’t asked to play on the JV or Varsity squad. And that was fine by me, because if I was moved up I would have never tried my hand at pitching! All the pitchers were taken from us, so we were left with no experience for that position. One day coach lined us up and we each had to pitch 10 balls to her. Two of us were chosen to be the season’s pitcher based on accuracy. One of those pitchers was me.
That season had a lot of ups and downs. One day coach got so frustrated with us (a few girls just couldn’t get along) and left the practice telling us that we were not to leave the field until we worked out our issues! To this day, I don’t even know what the problem actually was, but somehow we ended up gelling as a group better after that discussion.
We lived for away games because we rode the bus with the freshmen boys. And after those games ended we usually ran the bases a few times to “practice” our base sliding. In reality, we were just getting our pants dirty because we thought it would impress the boys and make them think that we had a really hard game! Haha! Looking back they probably didn’t even blink an eye at our antics.
One such away game we found that we had no umpires. We warmed up and still no one showed. Apparently the freshmen girls game got the short straw that day. Finally it came time either to call the game a forfeit or find someone to step in. My stepdad took the challenge and stepped down from the bleachers. “Ok, ladies,” he said. “We are going to play a good game and by my rules. Everyone is going to hustle on and off the field between innings.”
I played pitcher and second base that day and I remember one of the girls didn’t want to run—well that was not going to happen under his rules! Forty-five minutes later the game was over. While I don’t remember whether we won or lost that day, I do remember how much fun we had! Everyone on both sides was smiling and all the parents told my stepdad that he can come and umpire any time he wants. He not only called the plays at home plate, but also every play in the field. I have to think that he got this baseball know-how from his dad who was a Philadelphia Phillies pitcher back in the 1940’s. That season was a lot of fun and brings a smile to my face when I think about the hilarity of a team that we were.
Baseball is America’s pastime. Whether you have attended a World Series game as I have (1995 Philadelphia series against Toronto–sadly Philly lost) or play in an adult league today, I believe that the sport has nothing to do with brute strength, but rather finely honed skills, thinking and communication. Over the years it has taught me a lot about teamwork and individual dedication–skills that have come in handy in other aspects of my life as well. So get out there–play a game, throw a ball with your kid or go to a game to cheer on your favorite team! You never know what new memories you might make today!