small little league memory

One of those  little league seasons when I was a kid , Bobby Devinney and I sat the entire time on the bench . By the end of the game , if our team was either winning or losing by a bunch , the coach would put Bobby and/or  me out there in right field for the last  inning . Often it happened to be the last half of the last inning . Big deal , eh ?

It was the old worst- case scenario of Little League coaching . The coach’s son was a pretty good athlete , but he was also a loud-mouthed arrogant jerk . He was the team star and his buddies played every inning of every game . Sort of a sports version of the spoils system . baseball 1

Neither  Bobby nor I were friends of the coach’s son  , and we were quiet boys , not assertive people ;  so we sat . Bobby was an odd kid who lived around the corner from me . He and I  were never great friends  . He threw a hammer at me , once  .  I forget what it was that had upset him . The hammer hit me on the leg . Sitting on that bench all season , though , we became buddies .

About mid -season I finally decided not to show up for our scheduled game only to sit out the whole time on the bench. Again.  It was a  big decision. But , by chance , the assistant coach called me up at home that afternoon , desperate ,  and begged  me to get down to the park right away . He said that not enough players had showed up to play and he didn’t want to forfeit the game . I jumped on my bike and raced over to the park . Finally  I’d play , I thought !  I pedaled like a madman so  I’d have the opportunity  , finally , to play .

It was  false hope , though .  By the time I got to the park , another boy had showed up .  Yeah , they had their nine players and I sat on the bench again . Bobby wasn’t there . Maybe he’d made the same decision that I’d  originally made that day but he’d stuck to it . Maybe he’d got the same desperate call that I’d got from the assistant coach , but Bobby had stuck to his decision .  So , at any rate ,  I sat on that bench the entire game by myself , stewing , suppressing anger , regretting having made the effort , regretting not having stuck to my original decision .  That conflicted  little ten-year old me didn’t just get on that bike and go home . I’d  tell him to do that had he asked . Sure I would .

So , eventually ,  the final game of the season came around . My team had placed , by this time , whereever it had placed for that season , so  this last game really didn’t matter  . Because of this , I guess , the coach put me out  in left field at the start of the game .baseball 2

I could throw in those days . I had a good arm . During warm-up practice that final game day I fired that baseball into home plate so fast that it stung the catcher’s hand . I could hear the slapping sound from deep left field when the baseball hit the catcher’s mitt . I watched him wince . I saw the coach notice , too , and look out toward me , puzzled .

When I had a turn at bat  I was lucky . The pitcher  tossed ’em in slow and straight . They weren’t any trouble  to hit . I smacked out a double , and later on a triple . Maybe part of it was pent-up energy . Mostly , I think  , it was an impromtu  combo of some skill mixed with a good bit of luck . But , in any case , I hit well that day .

Toward the end of the game I walked over to the restroom . The coach met me on my way back. He put his arm around my shoulders . This was the jerk who hadn’t let me play all season , who had  Bobby and me  waste our time game after game sitting , waiting for a chance to play ,  pretending to be members of a little league team , but only playing final innings at most .  He complimented me on my performance during the game . Told me that he didn’t know I could play like that . He said : ” Next year I’m going to put you in first string. ”

I looked at him and said : ” Why would I play on your team next year ? ”  He put a puzzled look on his face . ” I spent  the entire season sitting on the bench ,” I told  him  . And he took his arm slowly away from  my shoulders .

15 Comments

Filed under humor

15 responses to “small little league memory

  1. Good for you (assuming you stuck to your decision that tie 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on No Facilities and commented:
    One of my favorite bloggers has shared another great story. This one reminded me a little bit of the feelings I shared in http://nofacilities.com/2014/09/02/the-jupiter-effect/ I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  3. Enjoyed this post, even if I am a (GIRL).

  4. Even some of us girls have a little league story. Good for you! (Visiting by way of Dan’s). Baseball taught us more than how to hit and throw.

  5. When kids teach lessons they’re unstoppable! 😉

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