Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hey, Batta Batta!

I was the kind of girl who never talked back, always obeyed my elders, and usually hid in someone else’s shadow. That is, until the summer of 1977.

That year I joined the community's girls softball league – ages 10-12. I was picked for a team called the Mets. Not only was I the youngest on the team, but also the shortest - which is funny now considering that I'm 5'10".

At the first try-outs, I landed the position of first base. I was very nervous considering the other girls were bigger and older. I played before on other teams since I was 7 but this was different. I felt I had to prove my abilities with these girls and coaches - it wasn’t just for fun anymore. But believe me, it was fun.

Although I did okay, I went home with lots of bruises - bruises on my chest and shins from grounders that popped up in unexpected directions, bruises on my index finger’s knuckle-pad from the stinging throws from third base. Not to mention, a bruised ego.

I quickly learned to make sure I caught the ball in the pocket, always stayed behind the ball, and was always ready for anything. I learned how to run fast so I wouldn’t have to slide. I learned how to hold the bat properly so my fingers wouldn’t vibrate with every hit.

After the basics, the real learning began. Like, how to tap the dirt off of my shoe with the tip of the bat before I stepped into the batter's box. I learned how to form the bill of my cap into a perfect arch. In other words, I learned how to put my game face on.

The day our uniforms were handed out was the day I knew I’d hit the big leagues. #7 was on the back of my green/white shirt. Complete with a green cap - which I pulled my long ponytail through the back - white shorts, and white socks with green stripes. Now, I was an official softball player.

Games were played, peanuts were cracked, and snow cones were devoured. The season was well underway, filled with hey batta battas, sweat pouring down backs, and throats caked with infield dust. Holding, wet with sweat, leather gloves over your eyes made a perfect sunshade when you were watching other games - and the smell is unforgettable.

To end the season, a pool party was held at the coach’s house when we won first place in the league. But the best was yet to come. I was selected to play for the All-Star team. The all-stars had a weekend tournament at the local church fair. Everyone's family and friends were in attendance.

We made it to the final game of the tournament and although we were winning, I wasn’t playing very well. For whatever reason, the night before I decided to cut my hair short. I overheard a woman holler from the stands, “why did they put her on first, what happened to the other girl!?!” Well, that just pissed me off. Now I knew how Samson must’ve felt.

The opposing team’s next-up-to-bat was their most formidable player. She was a homerun hitter, there were 2 outs, and the bases were loaded. Oh shit. If she made it home, they would win the game - by one point.

Naturally, once you heard that solid crack of the bat, all anyone could do was watch that ball sail over the centerfielder’s head and grimmace as it began rolling toward the fence. (the ball, not her head).

The scrambling commenced. Their people were running around the bases. Our people were running toward the ball. Center went to the fence, second base went to center, and the pitcher covered second - and the coaches went to the beer stand. Everyone thought the game was over when she threw the ball in, it went over the heads of all of them, and came to a rolling stop on the pitcher’s mound.

After the initial shock of knowing it was all up to me, the race between the girl, and me, and my heart began. She was rounding third base on her way home. I was going for that mound like there was no tomorrow. She was halfway there by the time I picked up the ball. I steadied myself for a second and threw it as hard as I could to the catcher - she caught it! Thank God.

The girl tried to jump over the catcher to step onto home plate for that winning run, but the catcher tapped the bottom of her foot with her glove and caused her to flip over - all over the place - rolling herself and the catcher into a spectacular cloud of dust and legs.

The umpire waved and shouted the most glorious words I've ever heard: "YOU’RE OUT!!!"

- AND THE CROWD. WENT. WILD. -

That day we took home the All-Stars' 1st place trophy and it was then that my real love of the game began. Although I continued to play throughout my teen years, for me, nothing could ever compare to the Mets of 1977.

I'd tip my hat to them, but my hair seems to be caught in the strap.

12 Comments:

Blogger JohnB said...

Cool...

12:21 PM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

thanks.

12:35 PM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger pdxbiker said...

Great Story!

12:49 PM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

thank you! it was much better in person. ;)

12:52 PM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger ItsTJoint said...

I love how little league does that with the team names! I was a member of the Rangers, the Cubs and the Royals (two years)! Man I was good...where's my millions.

Thanks for the baseball article props. I finally got to the reason it's dying today and I'm wrapping it up tomorrow.

2:34 PM, April 20, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

well, naturally you inspired this story of mine and reminded me that I still love baseball, if only on a small scale. - you're welcome.

2:38 PM, April 20, 2006  
Anonymous Littlebro said...

It just gets better and better.

2:37 AM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Great story.

8:05 PM, April 23, 2006  
Blogger David Amulet said...

A stirring story, one for the ages!

-- david

4:32 AM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

Thanks Mark and David. :)

5:12 AM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Sounds like it's right out of the movies. Do they still scream, "Hey batta batta batta...swing batta!"

I always thought that sounded so funny.

1:28 PM, April 25, 2006  
Blogger OnMyWatch said...

yes, Phoenix, so did I - embarrassed to say that "chatter" really loud. And I believe they do still say it. Must work. :)

2:11 PM, April 26, 2006  

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