Sunday, March 28, 2010

little league


At some point in my twelfth year, my mother and I both simultaneously forgot that I lack what is commonly referred to as "coordination", and we decided it would be a good idea for me to sign up for Little League baseball. We signed me up with the local league, purchased some dashing gray baseball tights, and I began practicing my batting out in the back yard. And by practicing my batting I mean "getting my brother to throw baseballs at my head".1

All baseball players need a good baseball nickname. There's Babe, there's Shoeless Joe, and, um, Mickey? I sure hope that was a nickname. My teammates bestowed upon me the fear-inducing name of Measles.

Though not a name traditionally associated with baseball or even common decency, it was appropriate, as in the not-too-distant past, my mother and I had forgotten that I lack what is commonly referred to as "tune", and had signed me up for the school's music production. Recognizing a chance to scar me for life, my fifth grade teacher had me sing a solo consisting entirely of the word "measles", sung at a choir-boy-high pitch over and over, typically out of tune.

This part I performed with relentless imprecision, and, as a result found myself without what is commonly referred to as "friends" for the next 4.5 years. My frenemies, though incapable of remembering when assignments were due, somehow managed to pull this dirt on me a year later.

When joining the team, my reputation from soccer preceded me, and the local grounds crew requested I be placed on the fringes of the field, so I could pick the grass they neglected to cut. This duty I performed with gusto, save for those moments I needed to pass through the hazing ritual that is called being at bat.

The probability of me hitting a moving object with a bat is equivalent to the probability of a red convertible being shuttled by a flock of doves into my living room this very moment. My batting coach immediately recognized this, and implied I pray I got walked, or manage to get hit by the ball. As getting hit by a ball would have broken every bone in my body, I chose to stand somewhere north by northwest of the plate, in the area reserved for practicing batters.

My coaches were normally okay with this, and they would spend those formative moments complimenting my "eye". This I found confusing. At the time, any eyes I had were buried under what was then called "glasses". Though the terms are the same, these items are dramatically different from anything you'll see in today's world. First, the lenses were thicker than my thigh. These lenses clung delicately to the end of my nose by a frame of excrement-colored plastic, which frame was connected via paperclips and tape. If anything, my eyes were my most handicapped feature. Nevertheless, I must have good ones.

This I know because I once was walked. I believe I must have set some sort of record, because I went the entire season without touching the ball once in any capacity. Well, maybe I'm misremembering, because I distinctly recall the ball accidentally rolling to me, which required me to pick it up and throw it the full five-foot range that my arm was capable of launching a projectile. My arm also set some records, as I could run the ball faster than I could throw it.

In later years, I was duped into joining a church softball league, where my hard-earned skill of suppressing severe emotional duress was put into solid use again. Softball is sort of like Little League, as you get the same quantity of jeers, but the ball is bigger, and you're missing those dashing tights.2

I would like to here apologize to coach Bechthold for being a complete embarrassment to him, though I'm deeply grateful for his unwavering faith in the impossible.

1. This is a lie. My brother would never throw a baseball at my head. Though he could have, as his arm is remarkably accurate, after years of practice with Monopoly pieces.
2. Which was probably good for my reputation. The most popular woman to ever speak to me in my youth, Sarah, remarked "a boy with legs like yours should wear shorts". I believe she meant that not only do I throw like a sissy, I have sissy legs.

5 comments:

Amy said...

I love this picture.

Jess said...

First, is that picture really of you?

Second, this explains so much!

Third, at least you can throw a frisbee after all this time...at least six feet (even if it is not straight).

chris said...

I keep forgetting to respond. yes. yes. that is indeed my beautiful self.

Layne said...

Wow, Chris. That is some picture. How are you not married yet?

bek said...

FREE SNOW CONES!