Tomorrow will be my season opener for softball this year.
Yeah, I know. June 7th. Of course, since I've told everyone I've retired, having a season opener AT ALL is rather surprising. I guess I need to explain.
Last year, I played in three leagues. Since I was 57 last year, that was a ridiculous sort of decision to make, but it's the one I did make. And it was ridiculous. I played part-time in one of the leagues (the toughest one, with fastballs I couldn't catch up to any longer), but in the other two leagues (modified fast-pitch) I caught just about every game for my teams. As a result, I ruined my rotator cuff. Destroyed it. Barbecued it. Ground it into little pieces.
We won a championship, though, and that's what I was after. I can live with the occasional pain in my shoulder so long as I have that memory. If we hadn't won, I'd be more mad about it.
Anyway, I can't throw now; not even a soft toss game of catch. That being the case, it makes perfect sense for me to be retired from the game. However, my Sunday team, the Bombers - the team with whom I shared the championship celebration last season - are still playing on Sundays (their, and my, 21st season in that league) and was I going to pass up a victory lap? Not with my ego.
So, tomorrow is my opening day. The team actually opened on May 31st, but I missed it - the first opening day I've missed in some 50+ years of playing ball. That's just the sort of fuck-up I am. I finally get the championship and then miss opening day the next season.
There was a reason, of course. My good friend and teammate, Fast Freddie Goodman, had invited me to accompany him on a road trip to New York to see a Mets game. The game was on May 30th. I said "yes" for three reasons:
1 - The league season was supposed to open on May 17th, so I wouldn't be missing that.
2 - I assumed May 30th would be the Memorial Day weekend and the league doesn't play then.
3 - I love Fred.
And here's what happened:
1 - The league DID open on May 17th. Unfortunately, with 7 teams in the league this year, each team would have to have a bye week. We drew the first bye.
2 - Memorial Day was on the weekend of the 24th. D'Oh!
3 - The team opened on May 31st while I was on the road with Fred (whom I still love, but missing that opener ate a little piece of my heart.)
Meanwhile, as you'll recall, I still can't throw. So what in blue hell am I doing still on the team?
I can still swing a bat and make my way to first base (it would be charitable to call how I make my way there "running", but it's something beyond walking, at least.) So I will wheedle an at-bat or two each Sunday, as conditions permit (we're either up or down by a bunch of runs, probably) and qualify myself for the playoffs and be ready for those in case nine other guys better than me come down with the flu or break a leg or something else horrendous enough to make it useful to have me in a playoff line-up. And then I will hang them up forever.
(Unless we win again, of course, in which case I'll have to come back for another victory lap.)
On a more serious note, most of you heard my news concerning Big Jay Atton. He is still in ICU, but his condition has been improving somewhat. We're all hoping for a full recovery, of course, but he has a long road to travel. Please keep him in your prayers. I couldn't have asked for a more fun teammate for the past 18 years and I'll be missing him sorely tomorrow.
Soon, with more better stuff.