Stardom denied…part II


rag tag baseball team rascals

Our team
The gun? Just for show.
Who’d have trusted this group with live ammo?

Feeling masochistic? Here is      Part One

And so, with all these strikes [literally] against us, you might be thinking that this will evolve into a story of personal redemption, of rising up against the odds to turn around a lost season.

You would be wrong.

If anything, we got worse.

But it’s not as if we stood around and let shame and failure wash over us.

Oh, no. We proactively degenerated.

We replaced DD with a person who was actually old enough to drive. And then some.

MB took the helm, with the help of DD’s father, who probably felt it was time to lift his son out of a deep, dark depression that can only affect kids who have no negotiating power, no money to sign up available kids who could actually hit and catch, and no hope of ever living down the Al H Moonshot.

MB…he knew his baseball, and he knew how to buy boxes of stale Bazooka bubble gum, but he really didn’t know A. how truly bad we were  B. how to bail from an experience that might just drop him into the dumpster fire-on-the-diamond. [He might have considered a move to Siberia, but even there, the Tass news agency might track him down and reveal his humiliation. Those were Cold War years, you see, and all diplomatic bets were off.]

Back to the misery.

Under the guidance of MB**, we continued the losing ways of a team that wrestled MM from the safety and comfort of his dinner table so we could field an entire team. He would later claim that we were better off with eight guys and an empty right field than nine guys with him fixated on the roast beef and mashed potatoes he was dragged from.

And then, there was me. One otherwise pleasant afternoon, I was still reveling from the game before when my only base hit of the season brought in the winning run–we interrupt this paragraph for our inaugural episode of TRUTH IN FICTION!–Truth: He did get a base hit. Fiction: It was a feeble opposite-field single that did not move one base runner closer to scoring, other than himself.–we now return you to our regularly scheduled venture into fantasyland.–

I stood on third base. I represented our last chance to creep within ten runs of the other team. And with a full count on our batter, I was ready to sprint for home on the next pitch. Even I knew that if the pitcher threw a strike, the inning would be over so no problem with my being off base. And the whole world knew the batter wouldn’t make contact, so I was good there too. And if the pitcher threw a ball, well, the batter casually trots to first base. How could I lose?

Welllll, baseball folks know the answer to that. There are multiple answers, actually.

  1. The teammate actually might make contact.
  2. The teammate might swing and lose his grip on the bat. [More probable.]
  3. The pitcher might throw a ball, in which case, there are still two outs and I would be a sitting duck.
  4. The teammate will take a called third strike…

If you guessed #4, congrats. Oh, did I fail to mention–there was actually just one out. So, strike three on the batter meant two outs. And Mr. Clueless on third base still ran for home. The catcher saw me coming and stood, no doubt dumbfounded, and waited…for the easiest double-play in the history of America’s National Pastime.

Looking back, I’m thinking that one play–that singular moment of baserunning ignorance– might have turned the tide against baseball’s immense popularity and vaulted football to where it is today.

You’re welcome, NFL millionaires.

To be continued. Honest, I’ll wrap up tomorrow.

**[You’ll notice I’m doing my best to hide these people’s true identities. I figure the summer of ‘70 offered enough pain and embarrassment. No need to salt their wounds any further.]

To be continued.

More from the 500-Word Challenge…


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