Wednesday, February 23, 2011

George Pratt, 61





I'm going to be 54 years old this March. I'm planning on playing fast-pitch softball for another year (if my shoulder doesn't deteriorate completely by the start of the season, a distinct possibility from the way it feels right now.) As if I needed any further reminder of the passage of time, a former teammate has gone home to God.

George Pratt was a pitcher. Beyond that, he was a great competitor and a true gentleman.

(In the collection of softball players pictured above, that's George 4th from the right. More photos will follow, all from the M Street Softball League website.)

I only knew George from my too few interactions with him at the ballpark. There are plenty of other folks - family, co-workers, close friends, teammates for a longer while - who are feeling his loss more deeply than I ever will. However, I can honestly say that I'll miss George. A smile came to my face every time I had a chance to talk to him, and the main reason is that George always greeted me with a smile first. That's how I'll remember him - smiling. It was what he was doing, more often than not.

George was THE dominant pitcher in the M Street Softball League for a couple of seasons. You could click onto his full statistics HERE, but let me quote a bit of stuff that should be amazing to anyone who plays ball.

Year Team          W  L IP   H  R  ER BB  K  ERA
2002 Sidewalk Café 21 3 149 167 81 52 33 100 2.44
2003 Sidewalk Café 18 0 133 116 48 37 21 117 1.95


For those not familiar with it, M Street is one of the toughest softball leagues around. So, dig? He went 39 - 3 over the course of those two years, and struck out 217 batters in 282 innings of work. And this is softball we're talking about, and against entire teams full of good hitters. Strikeout totals like that are few and far between. His 2003 year, of 18 - 0 with a 1.95 ERA, was totally unreal. I saw a few of the gems he pitched that year, but I still find the numbers hard to believe. They're the stuff of legend.

Even more impressive, those numbers were put on the board when he was 52 and 53 years old. And he remained a damn good pitcher (12 - 5, 3.95) right through last season, at age 61. His final start was a game in the championships, a 4 - 3 loss in which he went 7 strong innings, giving up just one earned run.

Here is a series of photos of George pitching - getting a sign from his catcher, then his delivery and follow through. I don't know if you can get the sense of speed, or the work he put into each throw, but look at the ball - straight line, blurred, towards the batter - and his rear foot grabbing the dirt violently. Also, note the angle of his arm on the delivery and then the follow through. You can imagine the sort of movement that ball might have had.






I say that I was George's teammate, and I was, but I never had an opportunity to catch him. The one year that I played for Sidewalk Cafe, George was sidelined. And, in the grand scheme of things, George was a star and I'm a scrub. No matter, to him. Any time he saw me, I was an ex-teammate and greeted with as much respect and warmth as if I was his personal catcher and slugged game-winners for him. He was that kind of nice guy.

May God bless his family and friends. He'll be missed.

Obituary





26 comments:

Crazed Nitwit said...

He'll be sorely missed. I'm sorry for the loss of your team mate!!

One of the sweetest older ladies from my church dies yesterday morning. I'm going to miss her though I believe she's gone to the great baseball game in heaven (so to speak). :)

Bruce Coltin said...

Too soon, Jim. Too soon.

Clare Dunn said...

Your tribute tells what a lovely man he was...the kind we all want to have in our lives, even if only for a day.

Our sincere sympathies, Jim, to his family and to you.

xoxoxo, cd

Mike said...

Jim, thanks for the posting and remembrance. I grew up with George and as a young man he was a terrible athlete, but his work ethic and will to be the best overcame his limitations. George was a "bigger than life" person, my best friend as a kid, my best man at my wedding, and someone who I wouldn't see for long stretches, but when we did meet, it was like seeing your brother after an extended vacation and we would just pick up where we left off.

We need more George's in our lives...people who demonstrate through daily living that life should and must be lived to its fullest. I will miss my friend, my brother, but will always remember him for all the smiles he left behind.

Retiredandcrazy said...

Your tribute is very moving. May he rest in peace.

Red Hamster said...

Such a shame; George was too young and too nice to leave this world. Sympathies to all his family & friends.

A nice tribute...and a gentle reminder that we all need to smile more at each other.

Michelle H. said...

So sorry to hear you lost a fellow teammate. This is a great tribute to him.

Daryl said...

That is a sad thing to lose someone so young .. I wonder if he smoked ...

Craig said...

Requiescat in pace. There aren't enough good guys in the world. And now, alas, there's one less. . .

61 is just WAAAAAAYYYY too soon to leave. As you and I are becoming all-too-aware. . .

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Very sorry to hear this, Jim. Just from the pictures you can tell he's one of those great guys who's friendly to everyone.

Nice tribute.

Hilary said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Jim. You wrote a lovely tribute to this man. I hope his family reads it..

Buck said...

What all the others said before me. Well-done, Jim. VERY well done.

Sausage Fingers said...

Nice tribute, sounds like one hell of an athlete

Carolina said...

Such a lovely tribute. Judging from that last photo you can tell he was a funloving and friendly person. I'm sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Nicely played Jim. Prayers to family and friends.
Oren
(FOA)

Moannie said...

I was almost going to skip this, Jim. I saw the stats? and thought 'oh boy, no matter how I try I'll not understand.' But, come on, it's Suldog...you got to, and I did and lord love you.
What a great face!

Uncle Skip, said...

Sounds to me like he was a true Hall of Famer.

messymimi said...

Please accept my condolences for someone lost too soon.

i beati said...

quite a guy Baseball starts here tonight !1 I have 20 games to do yay me

Jeni said...

You do such great tributes and remembrances, Jim. The smile alone -yes, things like that stand out in our minds forever, don't they? Some pretty great stats he had there on the olde ball team. Hard to replace a player like that and at his age too.

lime said...

may he rest in peace and may his family find the comfort they need at this time. thanks for sharing a special teammate with us. a fitting tribute and the picture at the end just let his warm smile shine.

I'm Jane said...

That's a very touching tribute. Love the pictures.

I'm Jane said...

Oh, and there's something for you over on my site. Just remember that you started it.

Barbara Shallue said...

Beautiful tribute, Jim. I'll keep him and all of you in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

George was a class act and a really nice guy. Take it from someone who lost to him regularly. Jay Malley

Anonymous said...

Nice and thanks!