Monday, August 10, 2009

Pujols ... eat your heart out

"What doesn't hurt doesn't work." I suspect that will be my mantra in the morning.

Tonight, out of the kindness of my heart, I came to the rescue of the Towerview Baptist Church softball team. Summer vacations have hit them hard and tonight they needed players. They stooped low to find them. Really low. Like ... down to the stratus of subterranean softball that I dwell in.

Before tonight it had been 27 years since my last softball game. It use to be my passion. I played it for fun. One year, while playing for FBC Clarendon Hills, we went to the championship game for Southern Baptist Churches in Chicago. Sure, we lost but we played. We only had one pitcher and he only had one thumb. Unfortunately, it was not on his pitching hand. We were winning by 3 or 4 runs until the bottom of the 7th when he sealed our fate for all of history by walking the bases loaded and then walking in the winning runs. He turned up missing shortly afterward. They take their softball seriously in Chicago.

I ditched the spikes shortly after that. But tonight I borrowed a glove, threw on some clothes that looked remotely appropriate for the game, a Cubs cap, and took to the field. "Da Coach" decided that I would be a worthy catcher. Some might find that degrading. But I figure it makes me a part of EVERY defensive play when we are on the field. So I choose to believe that the team viewed me as indispensable.


I made this deal with "Da Coach." I play softball, placing undue stress on this aging body, and he, in turn, has to preach if I bat .500 or greater. Da Coach seemed comfortable with that arrangement. I think he felt pretty secure after my first at bat. For some reason I have always batted left handed. It's the only thing in my life that works that way. I usually can't even wave hello with my left hand. But since I was a kid batting left handed has just felt right. Natural. So the first time up I hit the ball fairly well and like a good base runner I didn't watch where the ball went. Hey, it was in the air. If they catch it, they catch it. If they don't I'd rather watch it fall from first base.

It wasn't to be. They did catch the ball. And IT watched ME fall. Yeah. That's right. The first time I hit a ball in a game situation in 27 years and I fall on my face on the way to first base. As if that wasn't bad enough, as I struggle to get up I did it again. I bit the dust not once, but twice. On the same trip down the baseline.


And naturally about 30 or 40 people from Towerview showed up to cheer on their team. (One of the opposing players told me ... I talked to all of them ... did I mention that I was the catcher? ... that the crowd cheering for us made them sound like the visiting team which they were not. Tough noogies, baby!) And naturally one of them had a camera.


And then it was as though God remembered my prayer. Oh yes, I had most certainly prayed about this moment today. I didn't pray to win. I didn't pray to hit a home run. I should have prayed not to fall down but it didn't occur to me. I prayed ... to bat .500. We lost so badly that in a 7 inning game I only had to ... I mean got to ... bat twice. But this second at bat was a solid base hit to right center field. Yes, sports fans, it fell cleanly between the infielders and the outfielders. And I didn't fall down. I, a 54 year old FORMER softball player, ran safely to first base. And I pulled "A Zambrano." I pointed up, putting the credit where it belongs. And then I looked across the infield into the dugout at Da Coach. The poor, in shock coach. I suppose he's sitting at home tonight, behind a keyboard, writing his first sermon. How sweet it is. I did what Pujols has never done. I batted .500 for the season.

Oh yeah, and after the first game of this double header I had to leave. It seems that there was a death in the church family and I needed to go and visit the grieving family. It's what I do. I'm a pastor. A pastor ... with a free Sunday coming ...


Anonymous said...

Yeah Ron! Glad you got a hit! Didn't know you still had it in you! I'm glad you didn't get hurt, or at least you didn't admit to it. You're a brave soul!

Joy S.

Chris said...

Is anyone looking at him hitting the ball or just those LEGS

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I wish I could have been there to see that. Enjoy your Sunday in the pew!

Anonymous said...

Nice Legs!

Anonymous said...

If it were me I would mess up the 500 by wanting to play again and bat zip. Then I would re-double my efforts to get back to 500. I would beg to get back on the team although no one would want me. They would reluctantly let me on the team and then another goose egg. Everyone would hate me and I would treat people bad for the glory that was lost. Finally someone, maybe you, would slap me up side the head and say "What's your problem". By that time I forgot because old age has set in and I would say, "I don't know."

Enjoy the moment! It won't last. You should be glad at your age to remember it long enough to have written the blog. :)

Anonymous said...

it must have been all that time spent in the batting cages. i am just impressed that you didn't sit out because of "the blister"

Bob said...

Just try not to trip over the rail celebrating a win or show boat in the outfield, doing this little hop thing each time you catch it, pulling a muscle...

On another note, now that the wedding is over, I now I have time to work on the website again!