Sunday, June 2, 2019

UNBUFF 1) Unbuff 67 Year Old Scruff Drafted into Men's Winter Senior Softball League

MAY 2019: Once in a while I go back to older blogs to see if
I could have done a better job before hitting the send button. After all, once you commit you own it.

Of course, my limited readership keeps me under the radar with the FCC(Federal Communications Commission). Guess I'll just take my chances and repost this one.

This is part one of four about The Unbuff Scruff who exposed his underbelly attempting a comeback in a game that had passed  him by in grade school. Truth be told, I never should have shown up at the ball field. Still if I hadn't, I'd never have written these ambiguous bluffs about the Unbuff Scruff.

Today, I feel OK with who I am on and off the field. Some days  are good, some days not so good. Some days I hit the ball, catch the ball, some days I don't. I have survived with minimal wounds to my body; my ego not so much.

Still, at the age of 75, I'm glad to be playing a kids game. It's an honor to share the diamond with all the players from West Metro Senior Softball based in Minneapolis✊

Thanks Bob "Doc" Hartshorn for all you've done for WMSS!

Oh my, what a thrill it was for me to be invited to play winter senior softball. A kind of friend of mine, whom I'll identify only as "Baseball Bob" had coaxed me for several years at a Christmas gathering to join his group of aging jocks to play winter senior softball . "You oughta come out, we play in a dome, you'll enjoy it, great bunch of guys, not extremely competitive", said smiling Bob.

This year his wife, "Mrs. Baseball Bob" at his side nodded her head up and down like the team groupie bobble head chirping, "you'll love it. It's so much fun"!

My testosterone level had slowly elevated to minuscule when a blurred image of my bride appeared in my left periphery. Instinctively, she took on the role as my sports agent. She had me signing a rookie contract as I slithered out to the food room for cheese balls and meat balls. All I envisioned was her at the games sporting her "Team Scallions" pom poms, drinking wine from a paper cup and screaming in her shrill voice "get the bat off your shoulder. Swing the bat you baby".

I tried to back out of my contract with "Baseball Bob" as he was leaving the party. I leveled with him, "Look Baseball Bob, the last time I really played with any success was as a right fielder/catcher for Roosevelt School in 6th grade. It was the peak of my career when I caught three fly balls in a row to set a personal high for consecutive outs. The girls were cheering and screaming my name like I was Joe Mauer. It was then I realized that there might be more fun to life than playing sports".

Bob shrugged it off with that little boy grin on his face, "season starts in a couple weeks. See you then".

On the snowy drive back to our place that night, my agent/wife bounced up and down in the car like Tiger from Winnie the Pooh. She visualized me getting a walk off home run in the first game. I pictured myself on a stretcher being hauled off the field to a waiting Urgent Care ambulance. She didn't seem to care that I didn't make the cut in 7th grade baseball due to a long list of deficiencies, including a bad attitude.

I reminded her of our summer of love and lust when I joined a tavern league. One fateful evening I misjudged a hotly thrown ball to me at first base. After the ball skipped off my defective Joe Adcock glove, I made a great play by stopping the ball with my right eye. I felt macho celebrating at the tavern later having prevented a runner from scoring. I felt miserable the next day as I scanned a Polaroid picture of my shiner while nursing a hangover.

That wasn't career ending because I did try one more time as a young father in the Christian Church League, thinking the these guys would be kind of scrawny bunch of whimps like me and I'd fit in perfectly. I was one of them, the Congregational Comeback Kids. After we played our first game of the season against the Serbian Orthodox Big Cats, I felt like I had been led to and fed to the lions at the Coliseum. I laundered my jock, autographed it, and sent it off to Cooperstown along with my Andy Pafko outfielder's glove and my poorly designed Adcock mit.

Fast forward a few weeks ----day one of redemption on the artificial turf at the field of dreams started early. I needed to drive through the rush hour traffic allowing time to stop for my Caribou. Psyched, but nervous I pumped up the volume on the Credence CD "Centerfield". Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today I screamed. I was ready, at least spiritually.

Just days after that fateful party, I entered what may be the only Dome still inflated in the Cities with my gym bag in hand. There were my new friends working out. George Plimpton's words of wit and wisdom fore shadowed my future as I saw the hitters banging the balls off the outfield walls. There were the "non-competitive" elderly sliding into the bases. My heart sank, my ego deflated like the Metrodome as I saw a smiling "Baseball Bob" waving me over. My pace slowed as I approached my dark destiny, trying to keep a sense of humor while mouthing Plimpton's words of wisdom while trying to recall the words to the 23rd psalm at the same time as a backup plan.

"They did not specify I need to run the race from the beginning -- about a block and a half from the finish I entered the race immediately behind the fellow who was leading the race. He looked over his shoulder and here I was fresh as a daisy. This poor man put on a desperate sprint which is quite a feat if you've run 26 miles, and he managed to cross the finish line before I did, which gives you some sense of my speed" - AUTHOR:GEORGE PLIMPTON


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