Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Baseball, Memorial Day, and Old Age

The girl at the gate sang the Star Spangled Banner as we approached. She paused long enough to smile, take our tickets and offer some generic sort of greeting. I had a strange suspicion we’d see her again. Sure enough, right before the game started, she was out by first based with a microphone, singing our National Anthem. What a better way to celebrate Memorial Day than watching baseball. Not in the big leagues, mind you, but a clash between two mediocre Single-A minor league teams. The Southwest Michigan Devil Rays hosted the Peoria Somebodies (I don’t remember their name). Peoria won; if anyone wonders how things are in Peoria, there fine, at least for the loyal fans of their minor league franchise. They are now one game over 500. The Devil Rays are submerged, well below the 500 mark.

I wonder if minor league players get tired of listening to the national anthem sung by high school glee club members. At least this girl had a good voice and knew all the words, which is more than I can say for either Peter or Paul (of the Peter, Paul and Mary fame). One of them, don’t remember which one, sang the National Anthem at the opening day at the old Three River Stadium in Pittsburgh back in the late 80s. He forgot the lines and stumbled around for words in front of 60,000 fans. If he’d only looked up at the scoreboard, he could have read the words.

It’s humbling to realize that most of the players in Single A ball are half my age. Twenty-five years of age were the oldest on the field and there were several nineteen-year-olds. Both teams played hard. And they committed plenty of errors. A few may make it to the majors in a couple of years, but for most, this will be as far as they’ll go. Their dream of playing in the Big Leagues will be traded for a day job. But at least they got the chance to play.

For some reason I decided that now was time for my second debut on the ball diamond. Not that I was a celebrated athlete when I was younger, or anything. But for some reason, probably the promise of a cold beer afterwards, I agreed to play on a softball team. Prior to tonight, it’d been twenty years since I last played. I’m not as quick as I use to be, but then the "Babe" was never that quick. But hey, I surprised myself (and some other folks) by getting four hits in trips to the plate. Tomorrow, when I try to get out of bed, I’ll pay for today’s fun. Remember that song from Little Feat, "The Old Folks Boogie?" It had the wonderful line about "when your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fulfill." They weren't talking about baseball, were they?

Oh yeah, we won. 15-3.

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