There are very few sports that I am even tolerably good at.
If you eliminate the television remote control five yard dash, or the get-to-the-buffet-table ahead of everyone else marathon, or even the 50-per-cent-off-sales wrestlemania, the list is actually very short.
It follows, then, that there are sports I am not good at.
I’m banned from ski lodges in one province and two states because I endanger other skiers. I don’t do water skiing either, since that unfortunate episode at the family cottage when I attempted to take off from a wooden dock. (Getting the splinters out was not a task for the faint of heart.) Basketball demands that one actually jump…repeatedly.
I once took some lessons at a local golf course. The pro tried. He really did. And the first time I ventured out on the course, beautifully located alongside the river, I was really excited. I eagerly stepped up to take my shot. (Couldn’t see the flag or anything, but I didn’t let that stop me). I swung a mighty swing. Missed the ball completely. In the heat of the moment, I also let go of the golf club. That club sailed, in a fairly impressive arc, directly into a deep part of the cold river.
The clubs were borrowed. The owner, who had to dive into the water to retrieve his property, had some interesting and colourful things to say, which did discourage me a little.
However, there is one sport I understand, one sport that I enjoy, one sport I know how to play. Baseball.
I come from a baseball minded family. My dad played organized ball. My uncles all did. My brother played himself, then coached a young men’s hard ball team. My sister is a powerhouse player as is her daughter.
Baseball gets to you. It doesn’t have to be professional or semi professional ball. Just a pick-up game on a regulation diamond or even a grassy field with a couple of cows wandering third base.
I like the stomach tightening tension on the field, the determination of the player in the batter’s box, the steely look in the pitcher’s eyes, the obvious and powerful sense of camaraderie in the dug outs. And there really is a kind of magic the moment a person whacks one ‘out of the park’, and gets to make that exhilarating run around the bases, to the excited shouts of team mates. It’s a golden moment, long discussed, never forgotten.
I know what it is to stand in the batter’s box, trying to stare down the pitcher, trying to guess what she’s going to throw, praying that I don’t swing like “a rusty gate.”
And if you do connect with the ball, and see it soaring away and away, well, it kind of makes up for the splinters. Really.