Yes, it has been, so I was elegantly reminded by a good friend of mine yesterday. And because this good friend has a passion for softball, I decided I would share a softball story from back when I was a kid.
It was like the Sandlot movie except this story has hillbilly kids and a beat-up sofa.
This involved the ten of us: our next door neighbors Cher, Billy, the twins(Lisa & Lori); my brother Mike, my sister Jen (not her full name - way too long to write it out constantly in this post), me, and the three neighborhood boys - B1, B2, B3 (I don’t remember what their names are, and I’ll start confusing myself in future stories if I give those three boys names. I also don’t care enough to make any up.). We had a full softball team with an extra person to sit out. I bet you can guess who the extra person was.
Yup, you guessed it.
Now, you would think the teams were split even: five on five with the people who played the bases also working the outfield and with a pitcher and a catcher. But that wasn’t the case. The lay of the land didn’t allow this.
We played on Cher and Billy’s property because their hill was the only flat piece of area around. Everything else sloped down or rose high - much too hilly. Even the level top of their hill was a problem. It was only wide enough for the infield. The outfield played below on the slope, which had a small drop-off that you literally had to climb using your hands or walk around to a better part of the incline. This meant, if you played the outfield, you couldn’t see the batter when he swung. We had to stand there listening to the crack of the bat and wait to see where the ball shoots up from. Then we ran like hell to catch it. It was very entertaining when we couldn’t anticipate where the ball was going - just held our gloves over our heads in protection in case the ball came straight down toward our noggins.
So the teams consisted of three on six play. No, my math isn’t off. Seven would play the field counting the pitcher and catcher. The twins would always play the field and pitch along with Billy playing shortstop for both sides. The boys’ team was arrogant enough to only want three batters. When the bases were loaded for them, the kid on third base was at bat. Everyone would move up one base and leave an imaginary person on first who would get a “free pass” to second if the opposing team did not catch the fly ball or they did not tag the second and third base runners. Then when the other team was at bat they had six batters, rotating people to fill those empty spots in the outfield.
Are you still scratching your head on how this worked out? Well, you know how a normal field is set up. For our field, we had a pitcher and catcher(me), two shortstops who also worked first and third base. The pitcher would stand in for the second baseman after the ball was hit. Then there were the three outfielders, which we HAD to have to play a decent game.
Here were the teams:
B1, B2, B3 - outfielders & batters
Lori - pitcher
Lisa - left shortstop
Billy - right shortstop
Me - catcher
Mike, Lori, Cher - outfielders & batters
Lisa - pitcher & batter
Jen - left shortstop & batter
Billy - right shortstop & batter
Me - catcher
So, why didn’t I bat? Nobody wanted me on their team. They said I was too young to play despite being the same age and basic build as Billy. They told me to catch the ball, or rather to fetch the ball since they didn’t want me to get hurt by actually trying to catch it. Watching, I sat on the ratty couch (there for Cher’s father and his drinking buddies whenever they trap shoot). If the batter missed the ball, I would walk over and pick it up or dig it out of the hedgerow.
Oh, golly gee. Why, that was *sigh* so much fun... *dripping with sarcasm.*
Of course this wouldn’t be one of my trademarked stories if nothing out of the ordinary happened. There came a time when they were short a player in the outfield. They gave me a glove and positioned me on the slope behind the second base, figuring if a ball did come my way, the pitcher would catch it.
The ball came my way. I ran for it. Lori also ran for it.
Major collision. Now remember, I was only a kid - maybe 7 or 8. Lisa was older... way older. Like 20.
I got flattened, but at least I stayed conscious. Lori was knocked out cold for two minutes. How in the crap that happened was beyond me. We figured either she must have fallen right on the back of her head, or the softball hit her. Yet she had no bumps on her skull. Also, we had no idea where the ball went. Nobody else was watching it. They checked the ground and saw the ball was more than ten feet away to the side.
I’m thinking the ball hit her, and bounced in that direction. No damage in the end, and I was regulated back to my catcher duties on the couch. Oh well.