One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 14): Making It Back To The Mound

It had been over a month since I last pitched.

On June 23, I enjoyed pitching against Jersey City. Then, on June 25, I had my first visit with an orthopedist who did as I feared he would… he shut me down.

On June 25, my baseball season ended. On June 25, my softball seasons ended. And, on June 25, my hopes for running the 2019 New York City Marathon also ended.

The orthopedist looked at my swollen right ankle, the MRI that showed tears in the Achilles tendon, and his own X-Rays. He said, “This isn’t good, Paul.” The word “surgery” came up, but he also said, “I’m not ready to go there yet.” I think the thing that made him shut me down totally was when I could perform a simple exercise in his office – standing on just my right foot and going to “tippy toes.” When I couldn’t do that, it cinched the deal.

I was given a night brace, an anti-inflammatory prescription, and little hope.

I left the office with the brace, a discouraged countenance, and a follow-up appointment.

But all of that is old news.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 14): Making It Back To The Mound”

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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 13) – The Doctor, The Bench, and an All-Star

This is the story I didn’t want to write…

***

Two days after I pitched on June 23, I had my first appointment with the orthopedist.  This doctor is very well known and very respected.  He took X-Rays, put me through a battery of small tests, he examined my legs, took careful note of my right Achilles, and, after all of that, said that my baseball season, my softball season, and my running season are all over.

I knew this was coming.

We all knew this was coming.

I just didn’t want to hear it.

I still don’t.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 13) – The Doctor, The Bench, and an All-Star”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 12 – Game Four, The Story of a Catcher)

Well, I am the happiest 0-4 pitcher on the planet.

***

I pitched well enough, I guess. I gave up more than a few hard hit balls for loud hits, some of them long drives for extra bases. I also gave up some weak ground balls for hits. And a few bloopers also fell in.

On the other hand, some popups were dropped or missed altogether by the fielders behind me, a few grounders went under the infielders’ gloves, and a few would-be ground outs resulted in poor throws that instead netted no outs.

(And, to be fair, a couple of the loudly hit balls were caught by the fielders behind me. If nothing else, my pitching kept the team on its feet.)

In short, for much of the game, there were a lot of runners on the bases as I pitched.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 12 – Game Four, The Story of a Catcher)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 11 – Game Three)

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.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 11 – Game Three)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 9 -The Second Start)

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.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 9 -The Second Start)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 8 – The Weeks Between)

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.  

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 8 – The Weeks Between)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 7 – The First Start)

Numbers?

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.

Trust me.

They will.

***

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 7 – The First Start)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 6)

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.

Wright's Field

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 5)

I woke up today, April 6, feeling pretty terrible. Awfully terrible. I still feel terrible.

But yesterday I felt even worse – even if the actually feelings were different kinds of terrible.

In the end, terrible is terrible no matter how or where it feels.

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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 4)

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:

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part One)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Two)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Three)

***

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.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 4)”