The week leading to my third start was rainy and filled with more evening responsibilities that interrupted my throwing program, but, like in previous weeks, I was able to have a very special catch with a very special person.
My third start of the season was scheduled for Sunday, May 5. We were going to be back to Wright’s Field in Bloomfield to play a different team from the area. It seems that a few towns, Bloomfield being one of them, have more than one team in the league. I was looking forward to this opportunity to see if I could build off my modest success the week before.
This would also be my first chance to pitch in back-to-back weeks – a true test of whether or not my arm, and body was up to this challenge.
It wasn’t to be.
Rain, dreadful rain, washed away our chances to play.
It all started as a sort of lark. A few dads from my school were talking about forming a baseball team and jokingly (or not) asked me if I was interested in playing. I immediately declined. While I have played competitive men’s softball for decades, I hadn’t played baseball since I was sixteen years old. While I might be pretty good at softball (on my good days), I was never very good as baseball.
If I had one, my prime would have been a long time ago. I’m fifty years old, well past baseball age. I knew that a league like that wasn’t for me.
It was a great joy to get out on the mound and pitch again.
Since my first outing on April 7, I have been reliving much of that game over and over in my mind. I have also been surprised by the amount of people who have asked about the game. It’s been fun to tell the story to so many others. (To re-cap: It had been going surprisingly well through three innings before it all fell apart in the fourth.)
I did show in that game that I could still throw strikes, that I could throw a lot of pitches, and that I could still get guys out.
But now that it’s over, all of that isn’t enough.
Who cares about numbers?
Why do we have to reduce baseball to numbers? The numbers tell a story, but they don’t tell the whole story. Not nearly. Not at all.
I could give you the numbers, my stats, for the game I pitched, my first game pitched in thirty-four years, but they wouldn’t tell the whole story.
In fact, the numbers will obstruct; they will take away from all of it.
My new baseball career begins today. It’s Opening Day!
We’re playing in Bloomfield, New Jersey.
I am excited, hopeful, and nervous.
“Just throw strikes.” “Just throw strikes.” This is what I’ll tell myself.
I hope I pitch well enough to get a second shot at this in a few weeks. I don’t think a no-hitter is in my future. I just hope my pitching performance doesn’t result in a no-outer.
I’m sure my arm will hold out, I just hope my Achilles does as well.
This is the story of my attempt, at fifty years old, and after not playing any organized baseball since I was sixteen, to have a comeback, of sorts, and return to the game in a men’s 35+ baseball league – as a pitcher.
This is the fourth installment of the series. The previous installments are listed here:
Yesterday, April 3, brought with it a great deal of optimism and hope.
After work, in the early evening, I met my friend Michael Saffer to have catch. At the start of my career, almost thirty years ago, Michael was a student in my class. I had been his school teacher, now I’d be his student.
The following is the tale of my attempt to play competitive baseball for the first time in over thirty years. Since there is no way that I can hit (I could never hit a fastball), I offered to try out for this team in a 35+ league as a pitcher.
This is the third installment of the series.
This is a continuation of the story of my attempt to once again play baseball…
Buoyed by the fact that I had thrown, at least well enough with my son, I let my baseball dreams slowly grow in my mind. Here I was, fifty years old, a fifty year old man, the age long past when most people hang-up their spikes and their gloves, and I was thinking about getting mine back out, and on, and playing baseball once again.
I couldn’t wait to see what I could do.
I am fifty years old. I’ll turn 51 this summer. I’m no longer young. I’m not as flexible, strong, or physically able as I used to be. All of this comes with age. Of course. I’m not in the best shape of my life, but I’m not in bad shape. Last November, I ran the New York City Marathon. I was slow (4:47:47), but because I was coming off a torn Achilles and was under-trained, I was pleased. In the first Rocky movie, Rocky said, “All I wanna do is go the distance.” I went the distance. It was my 21st lifetime marathon. Not bad.
I also still play in two pretty competitive men’s softball leagues. One league is a 30+ league where I’m becoming one of the older players. I still play shortstop and handle myself well enough. The other league is a 50+ league where I play more of a utility role. That team won the league’s championship last year.
I love to play ball.