November 18, 2010

Little League Chew

When I was seven years old my parents signed me up for little league. I was reluctant to say the least. It was my understanding that you had to wear long pants for baseball. If there was one thing I hated, it was long pants. And there were so many other sports that didn't require long pants! Swimming, for instance, was virtually impossible in long pants. Nonetheless, we were Americans so I found myself in long stretchy pants, spiky shoes, and a mouth full of Big League Chew.

Lacking keen depth perception, I was the perfect choice for second string right fielder.

It was usually pretty quiet in the outfield, being that we were seven an all. My dad would routinely slap his hand over his closed eyes tell me for the last time not to sit down in the grass. I needed to focus. Come to think of it, paying attention during a game was not easy for any of us Pirates.

Our record was pretty bleak. This all came to a head during one particular practice. Coach noticed that all of us were staring off into space while someone was batting, and a warning was in order. He hollered for us to bring it in, so naturally we ambled toward him. Hustling wasn't really our thing.

“I can’t have you all staring into space. Not while someone is batting. You have to pay attention at all times or a stray ball could nail you. Is that clear?”

“Yeeees.”

“Okay. Now hustle back out there.”

I loped back out to right field and immediately resumed staring into space. The next pitch, the very next pitch, a kid on our team did something none of us had ever done before.

Of all the places in the entire universe where that ball could have landed:

It ended up right on my nose. I never saw it coming. I heard a loud crack somewhere deep inside my skull, stumbled back into the grass, and saw my shirt turn from white to red.

I still wasn’t sure what had happened when the whole team crowded around. Everything looked all weird and shimmery.

“Now this is exactly what I was talking about!" barked Coach. Do you all see why you can’t stare off into space?! Do you see?!”

I practically expected him to dip his finger in my blood and write“PAY ATTENTION” on my forehead. I looked up to see my mom tearing onto the field. She swooped me out of the crowd and into the car. I started realizing that this was a pretty good deal. It didn’t really hurt all that badly (on account of the shock), I got to look at a whole lot of my own blood, and most importantly, I got to get out of my long pants early.

That wasn’t the only bloodshed I was involved in that Little League season. A few days before one of our games, sickness spread throughout half the team. Suddenly I became the second baseman. I was terrified. Everyone looked so much bigger closer up.

Soon, a runner was headed toward second base and someone chucked me the ball. God made it so that the ball landed in my mitt and stayed there. I didn’t know exactly what to do, but I remembered learning that you tagged people to get them out once you had the ball. As the runner approached, I took the ball and hit him with it, right in the face.

He went down like a rock and I started jumping up and down. The crowd came running, but I began to notice that they were not crowding around me to congratulate me. They ran toward the other kid who was grunting on the ground. There was blood all over his face. Wasn't this just a part of the game? One of the parents looked at me angrily. “Why did you do that?!” Baseball made NO sense.

And that's how I came to love soccer.

3 comments:

David said...

One time, in the Keys, I hit Michaelanne in the face with a tennis ball and she bled all over my FSU shirt.

Anonymous said...

At least it didn't hit you in the nut. I know someone who hit the ball into a kids nut.

And then there was one.

Rachel Andoga said...

I appreciate the use of white outlines in the shimmery coach picture. Excellent attention to detail.