I’m playing in an adult baseball league this season. It’s been just about ten years since I’ve played hardball, so my goal is to avoid embarrassing myself or my teammates. We had a scrimmage tonight against one of the other teams in our league.
The directions to the ball park were along the lines of: Drive north until the highway ends. Follow that road through a few towns. Go past the grain silo, and park on the other side of the street. The air smelled of manure, but we had a baseball diamond, two teams, and an umpire.
My first at-bat was in the second inning. We had a runner on, and nobody out. As soon as I walked up to the plate, the umpire sent me back to our dugout because I forgot to put a helmet on. Yeah, that’s too many years of slow-pitch softball. Ok, so we’ll try again, this time with a helmet on my head. The catcher was kind enough to tell me about a soft spot in the dirt right outside the batters box. If he only knew that I didn’t really care about making it to first base — that all I wanted to do was put the ball in play, somewhere — anywhere — in fair territory.
The first pitch was a fastball, middle-inside, and just above belt high. Really, I was planning to take a few pitches, but I just couldn’t let this one go. Back through the middle and into short center field. A single! A bona-fide base hit! I wasn’t expecting a base hit until July, but there it was, the end of a ten year slump. The batter after me walked, and the batter after him drilled a single to drive me in. It was a very good inning.
My next at-bat came a few innings later. I was thinking to myself that I’d already gotten a hit, so no matter what happens at this at-bat, it was a good night. I also remembered to put on a helmet. There was a new pitcher on the mound, and the catcher once again reminded me about the soft spot in the dirt. This time, I thought, I really ought to take a few pitches to get used to seeing the baseball again. I took the first pitch, a fastball on the outside corner, for a strike. The second pitch was a curve off the plate. The third was another fastball that got a little more of the plate than the first pitch. I stayed on this one and lined it into left field for a stand-up double. Two hits!
We played until it was too dark to see, and we might have been up by a run when the game ended, but I don’t know for certain. It didn’t matter. A bunch of old guys played baseball, nobody got hurt, and I got to remember how good it feels to hit a ball with a wooden bat. Oh, did I forget to mention? No aluminum, no carbon nanotubes, no scandium or any other rare earth metals. Baseball bats are made out of trees in this league.