Put me in, Coach…

I love baseball. My love for it has faded since I was in sixth grade. I once knew every single winner of every single World Series, had a hugeassed baseball card collection (of which I still have most of them) and once won tickets to see my beloved Giants play for knowing the answer to some sports trivia question on the morning show on the local pop music station in Redding. I got older and the strike happened and I’ve only recently started following it with any enthusiasm again.

But see, I’m a girl. Girls don’t play baseball, they play softball. And while I’m a decent hitter and (much to my surprise) pretty good at catching most things that come my way, I run like a penguin. And because I run like a penguin, I’m a liability on the basepaths and any position that might require me to cover a lot of ground — like any outfield position. I don’t think it was just that my favorite player for the Giants played first base that made me want to be a first baseman. I think it was somewhat recognition that it was one of two positions on the field perfect for a slow player. (Catcher is the other, but I’ve had to give up the backstop position as my knees have gone bad.)

Sadly, my folks didn’t really have the money for me to play Little League except one year, so I didn’t really get a chance to practice and maybe become just a good enough hitter that my penguin-esque running wouldn’t matter. So other than eighth grade, when I think Mr. Stanley felt pity for me and stuck me on the team as the last man off the bench, I never was able to play school-sanctioned softball. (This is the way my athletic career always went — penguin-esque running, less than perfect hand-eye coordination, and being smart enough to understand the scorebook doomed me from actually making most school teams (eighth grade softball and JV basketball being the exceptions). And sadly, the scorekeeper is not the most heralded player on the team…)

But this post ain’t about my frustrations at trying to make the team. It’s about this act of sportsmanship (print version). You have to read the article, but the short of it is that a player on one softball team hits the first home run of her career, and in the excitement, manages to hurt herself rounding first base badly enough to end up in a heap on the ground. And instead of subbing a pinch-runner (which means the home run wouldn’t count as a home run — instead, it would have been a two run single), a player from the other team asked if it would be okay for them to help her around the bases.

It made me cry. I remember during that year of JV basketball where I managed to score my first (and only) two points of my career. I was so excited that I was nearly hyperventilating at the other end of the court. The ref had to ask if I was okay, and I said, yeah, that was my first basket.

I can only imagine how devastated I would have been if I had that taken away by a fluke accident. Thus, I salute the act of sportsmanship shown by the player on the opposing team in the instance above. I can only hope that if I was ever in that situation, if I could have done half as well.

Not only is that a good softball player, that’s a great human being. I know which is more important.