On the 4th of July, I played in a father-son softball game. I believe it was the first time I swung a bat in anger since about 1989. In this game, the dads were not only a lot younger than me but most of them seemed quite fit and used to doing athletics feats of strength.
I was handed an 8 year old's glove and took the field with two objectives.
A) Don't get hurt.
B) Don't embarrass myself, my son or the great Edelblum name.
I soon learned that the dad's didn't take the field to make their boys feel better about themselves or to entertain the kids with their own sophomoric hi-jinx. Actually it was quite the opposite. The dads were especially competitive and swung for the fences. Even worse, the boys were "robbed" on all the close calls. Still the son's (mostly 12-15 with a couple of older teens mixed in) tried their hardest...if not to win but to impress their dads.
My son Andrew was playing right field as all the dads were cracking shots to left. So when I came to bat, I tried to get him into the action. However, I missed and hit the best shot of my life over the center fielder's head. My first instinct was of course to run...somehow I overcame this urge and blissfully watched the ball sail away. After admiring my prodigious poke, I began my Ruthian trot, (for those who are not familiar with baseball...I ran slow)...After all, I didn't come there to pull any muscles ! I probably could have kept coming but I decided on settling for a sweatless triple. I truly hate to brag...BUT, it really felt good to hear the other dads congratulate me...Hence I succeeded in accomplishing objective B by not embarrassing the great Edelblum name.
During our four inning tussle somehow the ball was never hit to me or my little 8 year old's glove. However, on the last play of the game we got one of the boys in a pickle, ( a run-down, more specifically a base runner trapped between 3rd and 2nd base). I was covering second base when the third baseman fired me the ball. I ran the runner back to third and threw him out. The game was over and I was glad that I hadn't injured myself ...objective A had also been accomplished...that is, until I took off my padding-deprived mitt. The one ball I had to catch had sprained the middle knuckle of my left hand. OUCHIES !
I was on vacation that week so I was well enough to work with it five days later. But unfortunately old age has a way slowing down the healing process because now, twelve days later its much better but not 100%.
Moral of the story is, even if you aren't 17, always keep your own baseball glove in the trunk of your car for emergencies. If not, be sure you don't get stuck using a toy.
P. S. - For those of you who have read my short story, "BLESSING IN DISGUISE," you might remember a similar circumstance. The inspiration for that passage came from a real incident in 1981.
I was invited by "Combat" Larry to play ice hockey in Henderson Nevada with the dad's from a squirt league, (in the story, I cleverly changed his name to Combat Harry to reduce the risk of slander charges). When the guy with the extra equipment didn't show up, I was forced to use "Combat" Larry's 9 year old's shin pads, stick and a pair of gardening gloves.
Maybe on a slow news week in the future, I will can give you the full and hilarious story in this column...or for more information on "BLESSING IN DISGUISE" or any of my stories, the screenplays or my novel, please refer to this blog's archives to read a synopsis of them. Then, if you like, I can E-Mail you or provide a hard copy of whatever you might want to read.