Thursday, June 20, 2013

No. 350 – Fire

Performer: Jimi Hendrix
Songwriter: Jimi Hendrix
Original Release: Are You Experienced? (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Year: 1967
Definitive Version: Live at Woodstock, 1999, I guess, although for some reason the one from the MCA-released Woodstock, 1994, was better.

After the humiliation of being the final cut on the Hastings varsity baseball team, I felt vindicated when I made the Upper Arlington junior varsity team my sophomore year.

As I mentioned, my high-school baseball career was all too brief and none too brilliant. My regular position was Left Out. I’d keep the scorebook or coach first—we didn’t have an assistant coach. But I had a big game during what turned out to be the team’s most important game.

Shortly after I went back to the bench after my brief fling with the starting lineup, our team’s fortunes went South. We lost about six or seven in a row. The ultimate was when we went to rival Watterson, and they hammered us—and ran up the score as much as you can in baseball. They’d take a walk and immediately steal second.

We lost 18-1 and were embarrassed to the point where the coach lit into us after the game. And then he made us run … on the field in full uniform as the Watterson team and fans looked on. We ran sprint after sprint from the third-base line to second … and back. Line up! GO!! Line up! GO!!

Finally the Watterson kids got tired of watching us and left. We kept running. We ran until we dropped, and then we went home.

We started to play a little better. We lost a doubleheader the next time out, but it wasn’t embarrassing. The varsity coach gave us a pep talk after that, saying he was proud of our effort. The truth is, we just weren’t all that good. But we started to win a couple games, and two weeks later, we were back at Watterson for a rematch because of a fluke in the schedule due to rainouts.

However, just before that game, four players—all of whom were our best players—had their seasons end. One was due to surgery, the others to breaking training. (That’s underage drinking for you youngsters in the audience.)

Because of that, I was in the lineup—starting in left field. Well, we might go down to defeat, but we weren’t going to be humiliated this time.

And we weren’t. We took an early lead, and our pitcher made it stand up. I went 1-for-3 and scored our third run of the game after a single and stolen base. I made four plays in left including one that was a game-saving tumbling-over-backwards grab with runners on base. The truth is due to my poor backtracking on a deep fly ball, I made a spectacular play on what should’ve been a routine catch. But … I still made the play, and we won 3-0.

We were as excited as though we’d won the league. When we finished with the handshakes, we couldn’t WAIT to run our postgame sprints, which had become a ritual. They were the most joyous sprints ever.

Well, if you think our coach was ticked after the first game, you should’ve seen the Watterson coach. He made the players run laps around the bases, and they were running long after we left. Years later, when I was dating Beth and went by her school with her, I half expected to still see those guys out there running laps.

That was delicious, but the best part was at the end. As we left, a girl called out to me: Are you the left fielder? Yeah. Oh, I hate you!

I should’ve just hung up my spikes right then, because that was the pinnacle of my final season of baseball. I had a good game in a huge revenge game for us, and I’m being called out by the opposing team’s fans. How awesome is that?

Hey, what can I say, babe? Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.

No comments:

Post a Comment