Tag: softball

Young As I Want To Be

A re-post from last Summer. Sort of fits my mood today…

I can now say that I’ve officially heard it and crossed over. Yesterday I metamorphosed into that dreaded three-letter word: OLD.

I have to admit I’ve never thought of myself as that word. THAT word is reserved for people much more advanced in age then I am. People who grew up listening to Peter, Paul and Mary. Ones whose parents used to give them enemas at the slightest fever or notion that the child’s bowel habits weren’t normal. Not for someone as cool, and young, as me.

I still do most of the same stuff I did as a child. I play guitar, love to read the box while eating bowls of Count Chocula and Cap’n Crunch, watch Ultraman and Godzilla movies, mow the grass and take out the garbage. Heck, I’m still fourteen years old if you really want to know. All that’s missing is some more hair on my head and the loss of the forty pounds or so I’ve gained. Ok, so I have to do my own laundry now, go to work every day, make my bed without being told and fix things around the house when they break but that shouldn’t put me in the elderly category should it?

And I confess, when I look in the mirror there’s now some gray in the beard but that’s been there for years and no one has ever said a word about it. Plus I’ve done a pretty good job at covering it up. Just for Men is working just fine thank you very much.

Anyway where was I? Oh yes, the cross over to becoming so-called “old”. I was at my daughter’s softball league end of year celebration yesterday. The girls all enjoyed a final round of ten-year old camaraderie, along with a side of pizza and then walked with their parents over to the local ice cream stand for a sugar rush farewell.

I’ve been good with watching what I eat so I declined the ice cream and just sat down at one of the tables while the other girls and their parents stood in line. For some reason, eating a lot of that stuff now makes me gain weight and I can’t figure out why. It never used to do that. Regardless, I did enjoy watching the girls giggling with each other and discussing the season while vanilla ice cream ran down their arms. Early summer fun at it’s finest.

At one point, I noticed a familiar woman standing in line with her daughter as well. Someone I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was a girl I went to school with so I went over to say hello.

It was fun catching up with her in the short time we were there. We laughed discussing what all of our classmates were doing now and the lives they were leading. “Wasn’t it just yesterday we were all in science class together?” I thought. “Yes, it must have been”. But then I did the unthinkable. I asked her if she could believe that next year was going to be our 25th class reunion and in retrospect, I think that’s what was the precursor to what happened next.

After sitting back down with my daughter at the table she quickly made a public service announcement. “All team members sit at this table!” she proclaimed. At which point, a gaggle of girls started sitting down at the table with us. It sure felt great to be enjoying a moment with my baby girl and her teammates. Apparently though, one of the girls thought something was out-of-place at the table.

The little whipper snapper pointed to another table where parents were sitting, looked at me and snidley said: “This table is for the girls, THAT table over there is for the OLD people”.  I quickly tried to think of something to say, a witty comeback perhaps. Sadly, all I could muster was “Hey, I’m not old YOU’RE old!!” But all that did was cause the rest of the girls to jump to her defense. You’ve got to love the way teammates stick up for each other.

Eventually, and after much resistance, I slowly got up and walked over to the other men and women who were more close to my height ( I refuse to say “age”).  And do not for a minute think that me leaving the table is an admission that I am actually “old” because I’m not. The fact is, I could have battled those girls all night. I just didn’t want to make them look bad in front of their parents. No, in my mind, I’m still as young as I want to be. No matter what any ten-year old thinks.

On the drive home, and while she was looking out the window, I got even with my daughter for the comment about team members sitting at the table. I stuck my index finger in my mouth, moistened it and then reached over and gave her the wet willy. “DAD!! KNOCK IT OFF!”, she screamed as I laughed out loud.

There I go again, being childish.

Softball

My daughter Jillian was never big into softball. This was her second year playing and she was just going through the motions taking it in stride. In the beginning she seemed to be excited about playing short stop, first base or even pitching for the Palmer Inferno. Alas, as most nine-year olds tend to do in anything that involves commitment, every time a practice or game rolled around she became adamant about not wanting to go.

For most of this season her team did great. They even started the season with six straight wins. But then it seemed like the wheels just fell off. Many of the girls on the team, Jillian included, went into games not really wanting to play and it showed. Poor play, not hustling to field balls and striking out a lot. It was painful to watch and the losses started to mount.

There was even one game where we had to arrive late because Jillian had a conflicting dance class. We got to the game an hour into it and as we arrived everyone was already packing up and leaving.

When I asked what happened I was told that they had to invoke the “mercy rule” because the team was getting beaten so badly there was no way they would catch up. Many parents of her teammates told me they’ve never seen them so lazy. And yet, none of the girls seemed to care about it. Little did they know that laziness was going to come back to haunt them.

Yesterday was the final game of the season. Even with the lack of enthusiasm the Palmer Inferno had still somehow managed to be only one game away from getting the final spot in the playoffs. And as much as I tried to get Jillian excited about the game and the possibilities that existed with a win, the glumness persisted. She seemed more eager to just have this game over with so she could go back to doing what ever it was kids do prior to summer vacation from school.

Ironically, a brief rain shower had just ended and a rainbow appeared overhead on our drive to the softball field. I told Jillian that seeing the rainbow was a sure sign that good things were to happen. I don’t think she bought it.

Down 9-2 to the Forks Cougars after the second of six innings it looked like it was over. I was even considering packing up and getting a head start on traffic but then something happened. A walk, a single, a run, another run, a walk. Before any of us knew it they had scored eight runs, taken the lead and suddenly it was a ball game.

During the bottom of the fourth inning her team did the unthinkable: a triple play. Something I doubt has ever happened in a softball league with nine-year old girls. I began to see the excitement in her eyes as she could taste victory. I wondered if maybe that rainbow we saw was really an omen after all.

The game wound up going into extra innings. The Inferno was able to get the go ahead run and lead 11-10. By this point Jillian and the rest of her team were whole heartedly into the game. The smile she had on her face was priceless as she stood playing third base. I have to admit, I was pretty stoked too. But in the end, with two outs down, the Cougars wound up hitting a two run single to end the game. A heartbreaking defeat for the Inferno but without a doubt, the best game I’ve ever seen.

As we’re walking to the car for the ride home Jillian starts tearing up. I could have told her about how they shouldn’t have been so lazy in those earlier games and then this one wouldn’t have even mattered. They would already be in the playoffs. But this wasn’t the time for I told you so’s.

I do my best to comfort her and tell her that it’s ok. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Then she looks up at me and says something profound: “Daddy? The reason I’m crying is because my heart is broken”. That’s when mine broke too.

For the first time I think she understands what it’s all about. The rainbow was an omen. Good things were going to happen. And I couldn’t be more proud of her.