On Father’s Day this past Sunday the Lowell Base Ball Nine defeated the 2013 EBBA champions Newburyport Clamdiggers 14-3 and 14-6. In a new custom we have passed over description of Lowell games to Brent “Squints” Jones….
Title: The Day I almost died playing Vintage
It was Father’s Day 2013 that I was introduced to “Vintage Base Ball”. Father’s Day 2014 I was on the field. Today was an absolutely gorgeous day for base ball. As I watched Wiz warm up I was taken back to the excitement of little league seeing the brilliant whiteness of a new baseball that has yet to be put into play. I could tell, this was going to be a great day.
It was a great day for the Lowell Base Ball Eight…er, nine. Lowell has yet to field a full nine players for either of our first two starts. Today’s opponent, last year’s league champs, the Newburyport Clamidggers. It would be tough to play this powerhouse with a full squad, much less eight guys. Thank goodness Jeremiah showed up and saved the day. He played a great right field and there is no way Lowell could have competed with only two outfielders.
I was also thankful that there were no mules or tractors to contend with today, though the ground was still soft from its recent plowing.
I was in center field today and had made it through most of the day with no major mishaps. We had won the first game and were in the midst of a fierce battle for the second. We had the lead and did not want to relinquish it. The heart of Newburyport’s lineup was coming up this inning and we needed to make sure we held strong. Wiz had been working them over allowing very few well struck balls. But something happened in the 5th inning. . .
Wiz released the pitch and the striker unloaded. The ball was racing like a jet towards right-center field. There would be no catching this ball on the fly. However, as I tracked the ball I had a sense that there was a great possibility that this ball would land on solid ground and take a nice big bound before heading into the tumultuous soil of the garden that has caused me much sorrow in weeks past.
My mind recalled that disastrous day where twice the ground won battles over my will to contend for fly balls. I knew the soil was soft. I knew there was a chance that I would run full speed into that dirt and lose my footing.
But its as if God made me to chase down balls that are flying through the air. This desire was too strong. I HAD TO CATCH THIS BALL.
So, I ran. I ran as fast as I could possibly run. If the ball would just bounce where I expected I should only need to take one step into the soft soil then arrive at exactly the right time.
So, I ran. The trajectory was perfect. My tracking, impeccable. I reached the ball just as I had planned. I was at maximum speed and I lunged as far as I could. Mid-dive the ball landed perfectly into my left hand. Time stood still for that moment. I could hear someone excitedly yell “HE GOT IT!” It was a proud moment. While flying through the air, ball in hand I began preparing myself to hold up my trophy catch.
But something terrible happened. My seemingly timeless suspension in air came to an abrupt end. All of the sudden my shoulder dug deep into the soil. My body slammed down on my left arm. My head bounced on the ground. The ball drove into my ribcage, and that was when I felt it…roll out of my hand.
WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This was my catch. This was going to redeem Plow Day. This was planned perfectly. The ball couldn’t roll out. It couldn’t. But it did. I couldn’t move to look up. I simply heard Jeremiah say something to which I replied with a gasp “Just throw the ball in.”
My brain was hurting. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t move. I just laid there, in the dirt, dying. I climbed up to my knees with my face still buried in the dirt. I looked up and saw the striker standing on second. On the ground were my hat and my glasses. I had no idea they had fallen off of my head.
I picked up myself and my stuff and began to make my way back to centerfield. My team was coming out to make sure I was ok. Sure my ribs are probably bruised and I have a mild concussion, but my pride hurt more. I waved them back to their positions and fought to catch my breath. The crowd cheerfully applauded excited that they did not witness a death at this family affair. Once again, the garden had beaten me.
We won the game!
Hip Hip Huzzah!