This time of year, you’ll find Little Leaguers in their team uniforms filling neighborhood diamonds trying to play America’s pastime.
As I watched some of the games this weekend, memories of when I was that age and playing ball came flooding back.
Like so many other All-American boys, I was once a Little Leaguer. I was on a team called the “COWBOYS.”
My teammates and I, however, were so puny-chested, that if you saw us in uniform you’d have thought the team name was “OWBOY,” because the first and last letters were wrinkled up in our armpits.
“OWBOY” was probably a more appropriate name anyway because we were continually in pain if you consider the way we played.
One particular game pretty much defined my experience in Little League.
I had a Pee Wee Reese model glove and thought I was really something.
On that day, I was in right field with two out in the bottom of the last inning. The tying run for the team we were playing was on base. and John Spykstra, who had a much larger chest than most of us and probably had to shave before games, was at bat.
As I shifted my feet before the fatal pitch, I dreamed a dream millions of other kids have dreamed: not that I would make a great catch to win the game, but that someday I would grow up and I wouldn’t have to be in Little League anymore.
In the meantime, my thoughts and feelings at that moment could best be summarized by the statement: “Please, for the sake of God, please, don’t let John Spykstra hit the ball in my direction.”
God, who we all know has an incredible sense of humor, of course had John Spykstra hit the ball directly at me.
My first thought was that I was going to wee-wee on my Pee Wee Reese model glove, but then my brain cells quickly came up with an alternate plan of action, which was announced to the rest of the body: “Okay, everybody. We’re going to miss the ball. Let’s get going.”
Like a well-oiled machine operated by snails, my entire body sprang into action.
The “Get Ready to Run” command flashed down from Motor Control to my legs. The reply “Which leg first?” flashed back.
Before Motor Control could make a decision, Vision Control reported that the ball had already gone past me.
Reacting to this new input, my brain, in pure panic mode, announced its decision.
“Okay, we’re going to fall down and try to get all the sympathy we can.”
I lunged violently to the side looking like a hopeless fish out of water, flopping pitifully.
Unfortunately, it was to the opposite side the ball had gone. Spykstra easily jogged toward home plate with the winning run.
Ah, those Little League memories.
I have them often but, thankfully, I can control them pretty well with prescription medication.