Yesterday was the one year anniversary of possibly my biggest hit ever in softball. I know, it sounds sad that a man of my age would celebrate a hit in a softball game, but I say why not, because I earned it.
I had some problems from birth which limited my athletic development and participation. I never played any type of organized sports until high school and that was only track and some intramural stuff.
Fast forward many years and I hooked on with a softball team of my friend Louie Atsaves. I was a substitute who hung around long enough to be granted full-time status as the catcher and bottom of the batting order guy.
Admittedly, I sucked at first. Over the years, I did get better. I learned the fine art of hitting that 16 inch blob. Despite a fair amount of strength though, I never developed the technique to be more than a slap hitter, earning my keep with singles. Last July 17, my reputation was changed (at least for as long as I keep telling the story).
We were tied 16-16 in the first extra inning and I was due to lead off. I had reached base the previous 3 at bats, but not very impressively (fielder's choice, error and infield single).
As I dug into the batter's box, the pitcher turned to his outfielders and called them in to play more shallow. The first pitch came dropping in and I took a mighty swing and missed.
The second pitch came looping in and I took another mighty swing and connected. I immediately knew I had gotten all of it.
It sailed and sailed, rising above the left fielder's head. I raced around first and headed into second. As I saw him near the ball, I hesitated, then dug in and headed for third.
One bad belly-flop and a mouth full of infield dirt later, I was safely at third, enjoying my first triple. Our bench was in an uproar as I arose and brushed off a few pounds of dirt.
Tony Pasko (our pitcher and leadoff batter) came up next and lined a single to right, allowing me to score the winning run. Steve Stumpf (our shortstop) called out 'safe' (instead of his usual 'out' when I ground out) and the rest of the team mobbed me. Ronnie Burke (our feisty right fielder) presented me with the game ball.
I know some readers will think it is just one hit in one meaningless game...and they would be right. Believe me, I don't go to the bar after games and bring up that hit. I do have the ball on a shelf though. But why not celebrate it? Why not enjoy the memory?
I don't want to get all philosophical, but perhaps if my childhood was different...well lots of things would be different. However, life gives and takes.
I have struck out enough times. I have dropped some balls. I have been thrown out on the bases.
On that given night, life gave me a moment which will always make me smile.