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 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 10 – RAIN!

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.  

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story Part 10 – RAIN!”

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 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.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 5)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 1)

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.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 1)”

My 2019 Marathon Plan (Part 1)

I ran my first marathon in 2002.  Since then, in my running “career,” I have completed 21 marathons.  That’s 21 marathons in 17 years, a pretty good rate.

I have run some races pretty quickly, with my PR taking place in Chicago in 2006 (3:25:16).  But, as I have aged, I have (not surprisingly) gotten slower.  I knew going into this year’s New York City Marathon that I would be very slow and that it would be a huge struggle for me for numerous reasons including the fact that I was coming back from an injury (Achilles tear) that kept me out of the previous year’s marathon and the fact that, while I was upping my mileage, I still wasn’t 100%, nor was I properly trained for a good showing.

You get out of it what you put into it.

I put in determination and heart.  Those traits got me through the race.  I din’t put in the necessary training miles.  That resulted in my slowest marathon time ever (4:47:47). 

While I am not overjoyed with that result, I have to admit that I actually thought I’d be a lot slower.  I was concerned that 2018 would be my first ever five hour marathon.  Determination and heart prevented that from happening because I was not, by any definition of the term, in marathon shape.

Now about a month after the marathon, I’m still not in great shape.  But, I am determined that when I take the starting line for what I hope will be two marathons in 2019, I will be in much better physical shape.  I have been on a cycle of poor showings for quite a while now…and I’m ready to break that pattern.

It is to that end that I designed this new marathon plan – a 10-month plan that (I hope) will get me to the starting line in my best shape in many (many) years.  While I persevered and got through the 2018 New York City Marathon, I did it with a lot of self-doubt.  Most of my most recent marathons have been run that way.   I need to change that. Continue reading “My 2019 Marathon Plan (Part 1)”