Baseball Day


Today is baseball day. Not only are the Red Sox playing the Yankees in the season opener, but WGBH is commemorating the day by showing the Ken Burns miniseries Baseball. I own the soundtrack and the companion coffee table book. One of these days, I’ll buy the DVD.
I’ve seen coverage of major league, minor league, negro league, and even the AAGBPL spanning from the 30s through the Dodgers and Giants move to California. And I’ll continue to watch until the first pitch of the 2005 season. And in the meantime, I bring you this vignette from somewhere in the mid-90s…

For four years, I played in the 13-16 year old age bracket of the Plymouth-Wayzata rec league. Once again, I was generally the first baseman, a direct result of the fact that I couldn’t throw, I had a solid glove, I was fairly tall, and mostly, I knew too much about the game and had too much of a big mouth to sit in the outfield picking daisies. My big mouth on the ballfield was sometimes entertaining and sometimes got me into trouble. But mostly, it was just how I liked to play.
In one particular game, the first base coach for the opposing team was somebody’s older brother, a member of the varsity baseball team. He was pretty cocky and I got the feeling that he was only helping out his little sister’s team because his father, the head coach, was making him. Needless to say, he didn’t think much of me or my team.
Early on in the game, someone hit a foul pop up to the right side. I turned to make the catch, only to find that this cocky-older-brother-coach was standing in my way. “Move!” I screamed, but he barely took a step. I tried to maneuver around him, but I didn’t get to the ball in time and I missed the catch. I was fuming – if I was going to miss an out like that, it was going to be my fault, not the fault of some supercilious high school jock who thought he was better than me just because he had a letter jacket.
Not exactly lacking in arrogance myself, I turned to the guy and told him that if another foul ball came to that area, he better move or I was going to move him. He rolled his eyes and said nothing. And that pretty much sealed the deal – this guy had it coming.
A few innings later, another pop foul was hit to the right side. Again, I went for it and noticed that the guy was once again not moving. “Move!” I yelled, again, a split second before I rammed him with my right shoulder while my left arm stretched out and made the catch. The schmuck fell over onto the dirt. With the ball proudly in my glove, I turned and looked at him.
“I warned you,” I said. “Next time, I’d move.”


One response »

  1. Ok, these stories are nice, but I was there. In fact I was the assistant coach on Erin’s team. There are a couple of small details Erin either modified or left out.
    First, the guy may have been a varsity jock. At least that would explain how he got the broken leg and the crutches that went with it.
    Secondly, it’s a bit hard to believe that he was a jock as he appeared to be about 8. (He may have been a “little” person for all I know. I do know his first name was Verne and his last was something like Troyal or Boyer or some such.)
    Third, he was actually sitting on the bench when all of this was happening… as I recall, he was holding a puppy which was that team’s mascot and to have moved would have meant the poor canine would have been trampled.
    Finally, as you might have guessed since Erin stormed the dugout, the ball was out of play and the “out” wouldn’t have counted even had she caught the ball which she didn’t.
    Just thought I’d set the record straight.

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