For the past few Sunday nights, I have once gotten back into one of my favorite all-time past times: softball. I've never been a great player, but it's something I've always enjoyed doing. I haven't played on a regular basis in over six years, so when my friend Adam told me about the games he plays in on Sunday nights in the West Village, I decided to come and check it out.
One of the guys I played with last night suggested I write something about the games from a "newbie" standpoint, so I thought this would be a good time to write something about it.
The softball games are played over on Hudson Street, between Clarkson and Leroy Streets, on a field I played on over 20 years ago with some friends of mine from Tower Records. The first night I played brought back a lot of memories. The guys I play with are generally a good bunch and many have been friends for a long time. Since Adam brought me in back in July, I am a "newbie." The games are generally either 9-on-9 or 10-on-10, depending on how many guys show up by 7 PM. Steve, the guy who runs the games, has a permit for the field from 7-9 PM, then this group of soccer players take over the field, as they have the permit for after 9.
If more than 20 guys show, then me, as a newbie, doesn't get to play. (It's a good rule and I have no problem with that.) Fortunately, that has not happened yet. The last couple of Sundays, I've been watching the clock and counting the number of guys on the field and praying that guy number 21 doesn't show. I've lucked out both weeks. (In the above picture, taken last Sunday, that is me wearing wearing my "Born Into It" t-shirt and jeans. Apparently wearing jeans is rather frowned upon here.)
Two captains divide up the players, and we play either two games, or one long one. Players on the teams I played on rotate positions every one or two innings. The field is not very large, so there is one special rule: if you hit a fair ball out of the field of play, not only are you out, but the half-inning is also over. However, you can call your shot once a game and if it goes out, it's a homer. The ball, however, is not conducive to long hits, as they are rather "mushy" to prevent such long bombs.
I've had a good time in the Sundays I've played, but I'm getting old, as I've had hamstring problems the last three Sundays I've played. I did some stretching just before the games yesterday, but I felt it go again as I was running after a fly ball. (And I'm still feeling it as I write this.)
Last night I played every position except pitcher. I had a decent night in the field, and I made two running catches in the same inning in left field to cut down an opposition rally, and threw out a runner from third base on a slow grounder. But at the plate, it was rough. I went o-for-8, but the last two outs were long, hard outs to the outfield. The last couple of weeks I got 3 and 4 hits a piece, but everything I hit last night was right at someone.
The soccer players showed up rather early last night. There's a soccer goalpost on both the left and right field foul area, and they were practicing in right. The balls they were practicing with came into our field of play a number of times, pissing off a few of the softball players. They don't get the field until 9, or when the last out is made of our game.
In the final inning of our game, my team was down 13-11 with one out and runners on second and third when one of my teammates blasted a shot way out and onto Leroy Street, and I thought we had won. But he didn't call his shot, so we ended up losing instead. Tough way to drop a game.
Steve has his own blog about the softball games, which is entertaining, and he breaks down every one of us who played last night, including myself. (I am "Red Sox John." I like that.) It is called "Soft Balls, Called Shots and Hot Boxes," and you can read it at: www.softballcentral.blogspot.com.
OK, I'll wear sweat pants or shorts next week, and I'll swing at more first pitches as well.
But I'll never be "ashamed" to be a Red Sox fan. Ever.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Posted by The Omnipotent Q at 12:40 PM