By Sunday, they sit in weary clumps, their well-worn bag chairs lined up alongside still another battlefield as they exchange tales of their latest mission — of surviving the elements, of travelling great distances, of late-night sessions with the washing machine.
Five games in one day, seven in two, they tell you, and you suspect some embellishment taking place. But you’ve been around this particular block far too long not to know it’s mostly true. For us, mere amateurs with just one child athlete in the family, there were just three games in 20 hours – one soccer game sandwiched by two baseball.
My new friend Tom e-mailed me the link to a newspaper column the other day, thinking I would enjoy it.
I did not.
The column was by a sportswriter for the Seattle Times, a very good writer named Jerry Brewer, who wrote about going back to his hometown to be inducted into his high school’s hall of fame. But really, it was not about that so much as it was about the writer counting his blessings for being paid for doing what he loves to do – write about sports.
“You’re still playing softball?” my daughter asked incredulously tonight as I hunted for my crusty cleats, as if somehow being too old, too slow and, well, bad would suddenly stop me from playing in our co-ed softball league this year.
I mean, why should this year be any different?
Playing for our Red Star Tavern team isn’t about being the best or making every play or, in my case tonight, any play. It’s about the camaraderie, the joy of competition and the drama of seeing how many of us are going to end up in the emergency room each week.
When Lou Piniella was a player for the New York Yankees, he once flung his batting helmet in the dugout in anger and grazed the head of his manager Bob Lemon.
“But that was a ricochet,” said Piniella’s Yankees’ teammate Fred Stanley, defending his buddy. “It bounced off two things first. It was not an all-out assault.”
Just the same, Lemon started wearing a helmet in the dugout after that, just in case.
The dream job.
More than once over the last few weeks, I have been told that I had that. And I’m not always sure how to take it.
I suggested to a female sportswriter friend that it seemed like it was maybe sexist. As in, “You should be grateful for having a job so seemingly great, being a woman and all.” I asked her if she thought male sportswriters were told the same thing.