I didn’t say they needed me. They needed a body, and that’s about all they got.
I arrived at the Trigg County Recreation Complex expecting to see a field full of former players (I won’t call them old-timers) tossing the ball around and getting ready for a friendly game. I also expected that I’d only be taking photos.
Instead, because lots of former players were busy over the weekend (I assume), there were barely enough players to field one team. So, Jackie started asking spectators to join in.
The first time he asked me, I declined.
He found some other willing participants – several children of former players, a couple of high school guys. When teams had been selected, one team had nine players and the other had eight.
For some reason, I felt the need to offer my services, such as they were.
First, a little background. I hadn’t played organized baseball in about 17 years. For whatever reason, I decided to give up the game at the end of the summer when I was 12.
Quick lesson, kids: If you’re even halfway decent at anything you enjoy doing, don’t quit without a good reason. I didn’t have one, and part of me wishes I’d kept playing. No regrets, just curiosity.
When I played, I wasn’t fast and I didn’t have a lot of defensive range, so I got to play first base. I like to think I was fairly good there. I know I could hit.
Saturday, I might not have done better had the ball been on a tee.
As a journalist, I have a responsibility to the truth. Plus, Jackie couldn’t stop joking about it Saturday or at Monday’s baseball banquet, so here’s what happened: I struck out.
First at-bat, I must have looked terrible. Now, it’s only been a couple of summers since I played in a men’s church softball league, so I’ve swung a bat recently and at least had acceptable mechanics. Of course, hitting a baseball is far different from hitting a softball, especially when Jason Sumner still has a decent breaking pitch.
Second at-bat, I bunted. Apparently, that’s frowned upon by some in alumni games. If anyone has a complaint about it, talk to Jackie. He told me to. Probably figured it was the only way I’d make contact.
Third at-bat, I hit the ball. Jason probably had pity and grooved one for me, which is even sadder considering I could only manage a slow roller to short.
In the field, somehow I got stuck at third base. I can’t remember ever playing third at any level. I managed to make one play on a grounder in the first inning, which is remarkable considering I was actually playing shallow left field.
Regardless, it was an overall fun experience, and for any of you former players who missed out, you’ve got another chance at 1 p.m. July 4. You should probably get in touch with Jackie or Billy Fortner for more information.
For the record, I won’t be playing in that one, so if you’re planning to go with the hopes of watching me make a fool of myself again, make other plans.
(Justin McGill is executive editor of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at email@example.com.)