Baseball makes me really sentimental. It awakens all kinds of emotions – feelings of patriotism, pride, hope, unity, innocence and nostalgia.
I cry at every baseball movie. I teared at my very first glimpse of how green the field was at Yankee stadium. I sobbed uncontrollably during the first televised baseball game after 9-11.
I wept when my husband handed me a 2003 World Series ball, and 7 years later when we took our son to his first major league baseball game.
Like an old song, a ball game has the ability to instantly transport me to another time.
I can close my eyes and suddenly I’m an 8 year old kid watching a Yankee game with my grandparents, or I’m 17 years old and playing in a high stakes co-ed counselor softball game during color war.
Although, as a spectator, I’m quite the emotional wreck, I can assure Tom Hanks that I never ever cried as a player. I am very well aware of the golden no-crying-in-baseball rule.
While I’ve enjoyed playing softball in my later years, I stopped playing hardball at 10 years old. It was a conscious decision. I wanted to go out on top.
At the time, I was playing in little league. Since back then there were no female little leagues, I was forced to join an “all-boys” league. There were 3 other girls who signed up with me. We were all placed on different teams.
Each girl ended up quitting one by one.
Except for me.
I stuck it out for the entire season – even though I hated it. Well, I liked wearing the socks that came with the uniform. Other than the cool socks, it pretty much sucked.
The boys never let me play and no one would ever talk to me. My name was, “Ugh, the girl.”
Then one day my entire family came to watch me
sit on the bench play. The coach refused to put me in the game until my Dad came close to smacking him during the 8th inning.
I was put in left field.
It was bottom of the ninth and we were up by 1 run. There were 2 outs. Bases were loaded and the count was 3:2. The opposing team had one strategy: “hit it to the girl.”
On the final pitch, the batter swung and knocked the ball straight out to left field. All the boys on my team started screaming, “Ugh, the girl. No, not the girl!”
As the ball headed my way, I closed my eyes and started wishing I was back on the bench.
I don’t know exactly how it happened, but with my eyes still shut, the ball fell right into my open glove.
Everyone cheered and I was carried off the field.
I haven’t played hardball since that day.
Maybe I should.
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