I often hear sports announcer etc. sometime make a comment sneering at "beer league softball". I have played ball all of my life and have been a fan of Major League baseball for an equal amount of time. I love sport.
If you ever want to watch raw intensity and people playing the game because they love the game and not because it provides them an income then take a walk down to a local Saturday softball tournament or watch a serious team in a local league on league night.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to play alongside and against a variety of college players, a few major league prospects, and a few former big league players. I have also taken the field with and against a few former NFL player including one who wore a Superbowl Championship Ring from his days with the Packers. I have also played against construction workers, attorneys, judges, accountants, engineers etc. Many of these people possess incredible latent athletic abilities.
I remember one college player in particular who came out to play for us and he made an observation and a statement, "You guys take this too seriously.
My brother and I were reminiscing about the passage of time and some of the up-and-coming new teams and players and they don't even know who we are anymore. There is no hall of fame or any record books to detail the seasons and time put in. The faces of great teams and great players have faded from our local games. Sitting at the empty park in the bleachers I can remember about old times and great plays and championships won and lost. I can hear the voices of the players echoing in the wind
I have a storage shed filled with old personal trophies and most of the team trophies we would win as a team, if they did not go to a sponsor, we would strip the plackard and replace it with a new one and recycle it to cut expenses as we would award them out again in tournaments we would put on to raise funds for our team. Those I don't have and would not have a place to store them if they had been retained.
Sitting in the parking lot after a game we talk about old games and near brawls. Broken bones and old championships, the infamous fogbowl game, saving Doug the blind ump from a thumping an angry player threatened him with, old rivals and fantastic plays that survive as legend in the whispered conversations of the old guys. We talk of winning a championship one night when we won three games back to back playing with only nine players and having an automatic out in the lineup in the tenth spot.
The old Renegade team was the best for me. It was the best team I have ever been a part of and we could play some ball or play some brawl whatever your game we could cater it. Only the old guys remember us now. The new faces, they try to follow in our footsteps, they don't know it or even who we were/are but they are following them. If there was a hall of fame for local teams we would have spot there. During our time we could bring a game against anyone in three homer and an out ball.
Today Pee Wee is living on Louisianna, Mel has retired from the game, Grant has retired from the game, Stoney and I face off from opposing teams and a few more of us are scattered about. We always talk about those endless seasons and fame and heroism that we acheived together.
I wish that I had some of the athletic ability back that I have lost as I age. Always when I played if I took one off the shins or in the chest or elsewhere, the pain would only fuel my intensity and make me better and meaner. Today, the pain is chronic and perpetual, both achilles tendons and my right knee are causing problems. I fear I have a torn ACL in my knee as I have problems decelerating and cutting left. There is a little pain in it but what concerns me most is that is will not withstand the motions I want to put it through. My linear speed is coming back as I recover from foot injuries but pain is a part of my game still and it appears that it will only become more intense over time. I have always used it, pain, to fuel my intensity and today I am the most intense player you will ever see in any sport.
I expect myself to bat 1.000 and to make every single play that I get the opportunity to make. I always want the ball in my hands. I want the ball hit at me as hard as it can be hit and I want to be the one at bat when the game is on the line. I live for collision or impact and am as hard-nosed a player as you will find at any level of the game. I want to face off against the good teams and the best players as I am equal to anything they can do and I am ready to show it. When the game is on the line I want to be in the center of the action wherever the action is.
There are some weaknesses in my game and in my body but you will not see them revealed on the field as I will extend the limits of my ability and I believe I can do anything.
If you face off against me on the field you are gonna see a big brown haired guy with an extremely dirty #8 uniform and blood stains around the knees and most likely a dirt caked bloody elbow. He will be pounding a fist into his first base mitt with fiery intensity in his eyes. Most places with bare skin will be caked with chalk and dirt. He is going to be vocal, a team leader, letting everyone on the infield know of the game situation and the number of outs and will be willing to compliment anyone on either team for a fine play.
This guy will dive for anything close to him and will be coaching a base if he is not batting when his team is in. You will see him going up the chain link chasing even hoplessly foul balls. He will play with a completely reckless nature and will play hard no matter what the score is.
This guy will have a good nature and a good humor about him in contrast to his intensity and even with his good nature you will know he is all business as a player and will do anything to make a play. I live for Thursday nights!
The ball fields are battle fields and are the stages for battles and warriors to come. They are haunted with the battles of yesterday and are the venue for those battles of this week and next year and decades to come. A perpetual dance and conflict that is never the same but is always the same.
Friends are the best collectibles