(Note: This article can also be found on Start Spreading The News.)
Opening Day is a month, a week, and a day away. That’s my Opening Day. The day my baseball season begins.
In 2019, after not pitching in any competitive baseball game for over 34 years, I made a comeback as the old guy, a 50+-year-old pitcher, in a highly competitive wood bat 35-year-old + baseball league. I pitched again last year.
The upcoming 2021 season will be my third.
After proving to myself that I can hold my own on the mound, and even pitch complete nine inning games, I am no longer content with just being able to do that.
Now I want to win.
Continue reading “One Last Shot – Season 3, Post 2: My Spring Training”
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”
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!”
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)”
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)”
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.
Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 7 – The First Start)”
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.
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)”
This is a continuation of the story of my attempt to once again play baseball…
(Click here for Part 1 of this story.)
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.
Continue reading “One Last Shot…A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 2)”
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)”