When Tom and I got married, I promised to “love, honor, and play softball.” That line is funnier if you know my husband, who loves to play games, especially sports, of any kind. I have never been a particularly good athlete, but with my husband’s insistence encouragement, I learned to play softball competently. I always hit the ball – even if usually back to the pitcher – and I can stop the ball. Of course, I don’t catch it as much as block it with my body.
Tom, being the coach of the team, liked to keep me at catcher, where I had a backstop behind me and other fielders who would cover for me. He didn’t doubt my competence, but he always worried about me because I tend to get injured.
In one particular game, about 15 years ago, I played third base. And got hit in the shins by two line drives (blocking the ball instead of catching it). Of course, my shins swelled up immediately, but we didn’t have any other women to play, so I stayed in the game. The next time I got up to bat, I got a hit and ran to first. The person behind me hit, so I ran to second. The next person hit the ball to first base. The first baseman picked up the ball, stepped on the bag for one out, and then threw as hard as possible to third base for a possible double play.
I was the one running to third base.
On a collision course with the ball that was thrown.
The ball arrived at the base just a moment after I did.
And hit me on the back of the head.
But I was safe!
When I woke up, both teams were gathered around me in a prayer circle. And a friend who had never played softball before and come to the game in her sandals, put my socks and shoes on and took the field for the last inning of the game. During the week I got get well cards from members of both teams.
When I turned 45 I retired from softball. We had plenty of women to play most of the time. Over the last nine years I have filled in occasionally, but not played on a regular basis, and most of the current softball team has never seen me play.
Until yesterday. When I got to the field to cheer on the team, there were only three women, and we need five to play. So I agreed to play. And then we talked a spectator, Gayle, into playing. Gayle has been to plenty of softball games, but never played. Gayle is younger than I am, but we both have married children and Gayle has grandkids. So I played second and Gayle reluctantly stood in right field.
It was a beautiful day for a softball game. I got several hits. Gayle hit the ball when she batted. I didn’t make any errors, and Gayle didn’t have any balls hit to right field. Neither of us got injured, and best of all, our team won! 17 to 15! We may have been twice as old as the other women on the team, but yesterday, the old ladies did okay.