Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Two Sweetest Words I Ever Heard

     I'm not what one would call a natural athlete, but as a kid, I would play touch football with the other  kids who lived on the street. I was even down for tackle when we would move the game to the grass in the park. On Reimche Drive, no one made fun of me if I fumbled a pass or dropped a pop fly, mostly because I was under the protective wing of my brother who was the king of the neighborhood. I wasn't a natural, but I could be taught.
     In 6th grade, of my own volition, I signed up for the lunch hour softball league. I thought it would be fun. I thought wrong. There was a kid named Steve who obviously didn't understand what being a team was. We were supposed to be teammates, but he saw me as the weakest link, so he made lunch hour baseball miserable for me. One day I hit a triple. Was Steve happy about it? No. There weren't any "good job" comments or atta boys. I just got lucky, or at least that's how Steve looked at it.
     After my lunch hour league experience, something inside me shut down when it came to organized sports, which made gym class in Junior High the worst period of the day for me. And just what were those PE teachers paid for? All they did was tell us to do some jumping jacks and then would have the same "cool kids" be captains to pick teams for whatever sport we would be playing that day. Then they would disappear, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Whenever we would play softball, I would usually get picked last (and on good days, second to last), and then find myself out in right field. In Junior High, right field was reserved for the least of all players on the team.
     One day a pop fly was coming my way, and I ran for it. I held out my glove and somehow that ball ended up not on the ground. Did I get a "Nice catch, Couch"? Not exactly. Instead, I heard a very sarcastic, "Happy Birthday!" Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I had completed all my PE credits and never had to go to "gym" again.
     When I was in my late 20's, I decided I wanted to play on the church softball league. This was a big risk for me. I was putting myself out there just like I did in 6th grade, trusting that people on a Christian league wouldn't judge my abilities. Our team had a great captain who took our practice times very seriously. He actually taught skills and I learned a few things, one of them being  how to hit the ball pretty good and far.
     Our annual church Memorial Day picnic came around and some of the guys were getting a softball game going. After being in the Christian league for a while, I felt safe enough to play in that setting. When it was my turn at bat, I noticed a youth kid in centerfield who was on his high school baseball team. Was I going to be intimidated by this official baseball player who was right in my line of vision? The ball was pitched, I swung, and I watched that ball soar over that kid's head. He had to turn around and chase it. Ironic that I got a triple out of it, just like in 6th grade, but there was no "Steve" around on this day. I was playing softball and I was enjoying it.
     A few innings later, it was my turn at bat again. As I stepped up to the plate, I heard two of the sweetest words ever uttered: "Back up!" Really? My presence in the batter's box caused someone to shout out "back up"? Well, okay! Once again that ball flew over that same kids head resulting in another triple.
     When the game was over, someone said to me, "You're a natural!" Not really, but he didn't need to know that.


Zac said...
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susanna said...

I love that! Those are two great words!