Friday, May 8, 2009

ON SPORTS ~ Keeping Score...


Keeping Score:

where previously Molly shared tips on getting to and into Fenway

My Mets fans friends and Yankee Boy played in the Boston Bureaucratic Red Tape League, which was slow pitch co-ed softball. They were always looking for extra girls to add to the roster and when I joined the team you could fight for playing time. It was a fun league and a fun team to play for. Typically the girls either played 2nd Base or Catcher. Every now and then one would play Right Field. Having not played softball in years I was nervous and excited to suit up and play. However, I wanted nothing to do with 2nd Base or Outfield. I had never played out there and the few times my new team stuck me out there I was petrified. I was very comfortable behind the plate, which is where I belonged and where I eventually stayed. For the longest time I played in Keds. This is not the footwear of choice for traction but happened to be the only sneakers I could afford. I graduated to some Nikes eventually but learned that the sneakers really had no effect on my lack of speed around the base paths.

I also played without a facemask and shin guards. I continuously was asked to wear the mask by my coach (Yankee boy), teammates, and umpires. I hated it. It was hot under there and uncomfortable – even though my glasses had long since been replaced by contacts. And I couldn’t see the action nearly as well through the bars. My coach offered to get a better one for me that would fit properly but we had such a limited budget for bats and balls, bases and score sheets, the umpire fees – not to mention the annual awards party. I learned to sit farther back behind the plate so as not to get clocked in the head with an aluminum bat or take a foul tip in the teeth. The problem with being that far back meant I couldn’t reach in to catch the pitch and had to catch it off a bounce instead. This was not a skill I was very proficient at (thus my fear of playing the infield) so my legs were constantly bruised. I basically acted more like a goalie than a catcher, using my body to block the ball so it didn’t hit the ump or rattle around the backstop causing game delays as I chased it down. Shin guards would have kept my legs from looking like a battered woman during softball season but they were hot and didn’t fit right either. I did wear them every now and then but still preferred the challenge of improving my fielding skills to avoid the bruises.

I started playing softball to meet new friends. I kept playing because of the friends I met and because I felt it was good exercise. Although technically we didn’t really get a ton of exercise. If you struck out in a game you had to bring beers to the next game – a case if you were a guy and a 12 pack if you were a girl. So any exercise we got on the field was compromised by the game sodas. After the game we would go to the local bar that sponsored our team, wash down free wings and pizza with more beers, and dissect every play of the game we just played by analyzing the scorebook.

My co-ed Bureaucratic Red Tape League softball days in college were where I learned how to score a game. This initially became my duty because there were a lot of girls on the team and being the newest member I got less playing time. Therefore it gave me something to do. I wouldn’t say that my scoring techniques were of the traditional variety. After all, there weren’t always other people on the bench for me to ask how to score certain plays. So I improvised. It completely screwed up the stats but at least I was consistent. Many hours were spent at the bar after the game poring over the scorebook trying to decipher my notations and correct them so the league stats would be as accurate as possible.

As the years went on and the number of girls on the team dwindled I had fulltime catcher duties. But I enjoyed keeping the book and continued to do so when it was our turn at the plate. Toward the end of my career I found myself begging out of catching when possible because I would rather do that than risk injury – what was I thinking catching without a mask and shin guards anyway? I quit playing because it was a real pain in the neck to leave work early to fight traffic to drive into the city for our games. It had been much easier when I was just a college kid living in the city rather than commuting from the suburbs from work. But the real reason was that I had seen plenty of other players suffer injuries and decided to hang up my cleats (Keds) while I was still ahead. Every now and then I go to the games since a handful of my friends are still on the team. And when I go I get to keep score.

next week, BASEBALL INSTRUCTION, where Molly puts her teaching skills to use educating a foreigner on baseball...

1 comment:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have all kinds of admiration for you. I was an unwilling participant in a softball league that we had at work years ago (they had to have X number of girls) and I HATED IT. The guys treated the girls bad, and one of us always ended up getting hurt! I was pretty intimidated. So good for you Molly!