Monday, June 4, 2007

Softball Growing Pains

Above: YUP, that's me when I was seven years old.
Notice the pink bat!!

Growing up as a kid I never was introduced to sports by my father or anyone for that matter. Being an awkward teenager, everyone assumed I didn’t have the coordination to actually throw a ball, catch a ball or even run. This is probably true since I was never introduced to it and, like starting off anything new, it's like taking your first steps, you start off slow and shaky. That’s how it was for me when I started playing softball in Boston in 2005. Paul encouraged me to join a team then called “Bear Hill CafĂ©.” I also encouraged a few other friends to join the team as well. Many of the people were newbie’s but it was a great team and it evolved into the Brushbacks in 2006. The Brushbacks 2006 were such an amazing team; we all got a long, played well and most importantly enjoyed ourselves and had fun. It is a memory I will never forget and it was one of the reasons why I wanted to stay in Boston.

Above: The Bear Hill Cafe 2005 Team

Moving to California, I was reluctant to join a new softball team because I was unsure if I would fit in the same way as I did with the Brushbacks. Although I was not the best player on the Brushbacks, probably one of the worst, I never gave up and I was more of the “glue” for the team. The cheering section, the energy and sometimes the big mouth! I still tried my best when at bat, behind the plate or catching and I was always willing to learn how to play better. When trying out for a new team in San Francisco, a team that was being coached by a friend of Paul’s picked me up, the team is called the Pilsner Pups. At first, I was a bit nervous that I would not be good enough to play and should think about going into a lower division. I went to a few practices and learned a few tricks that I was not applying to my softball game playing in the past.

Above: The Brushbacks 2006 Team

The basics for me and what I learned:

1. Catching the ball. I was a catcher on the Brushbacks and I am currently a catcher on the Pups as well. Being a catcher is not an easy job (ok make your wisecracks here.) When you’re a catcher you have to wear this heavy metal mask, squat down behind the plate, be alert to the batter and how they swing so you don’t get nailed, ( geez this sounds way to sexual) catch the ball when it is not hit and get it back to the pitcher and guard the plate and try to prevent runs from coming home. It’s not easy. A few things I learned were to not sweat it. It’s just a game and there’s no need to be nervous. Stop being afraid of the ball, I was afraid of the ball but now I have learned to keep my eye on it at all times and be more aware.

Above: Catching for the Brushbacks Season 2006

2. Base Running. Most people probably think this is the easiest thing but if you don’t know when to run, when to stay and when to tag back to the base then your probably going to cause an out for your team. I learned the hard way about base running in the past and I am proud to say I am probably one of the fastest and best base runners on my team. I have also learned how to slide semi-successfully and showed my skills to two former teammates, Jon and Kevin, when they were visiting Paul and I.

Above: My rookie year, 2005, on the Bear Hill team.

3. Throwing the ball. As Clisham can attest to this, I was not the greatest at throwing the ball back to him on the mound. I would get frustrated by the heat and not even really try my hardest to make sure I caught the ball and get it back to the pitcher in a timely manner. I learned my lesson on this. It affects the whole team when I lag or not try. Clisham you would be proud at my new efforts and actually getting the ball back to the mound☺

Above: Making every attempt to get the ball back to Clisham, then coach and pitcher.

4. Hitting the ball. Probably one of my weakest abilities on the field is hitting the ball. My problem in the past was I was holding the bat too tightly and swinging at bad pitches. I learned that if you hold the bat loosely and let your fingers cradle the bat, you will have more power when you do make contact with the ball. Also, I here Jon Jones voice saying “Keep your eye on the ball.” Always works Jonsey!

Above: This picture was probably one of my very first
times at bat, ever.
You can see the look of fear and uncertainty on my face.

So, this past Sunday we had a double header against two really good teams. In both games I played extremely well. Every time I was at bat I hit the ball for a base hit, even hit a double and didn’t cause any outs. I also stopped a run from coming into to home plate for the other team AND I was consistent behind the plate catching the ball and getting it back to the pitcher fast and precisely. It was my best game ever. I was awarded one of the team balls. We won both games!

Above: My new team logo. To view the Pups Wesbite that I designed and run, click on the link below.

It’s a great feeling to actually see yourself improve at something and get better. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Our team is 7-1 and we are in the running to go to the Gay World Series in Arizona this fall. It would be a great accomplishment and I would love to be included as the top team in our division. If we do go, I will be thinking of my Brushbacks and all I learned from them. I miss you guys and I know someday we will all play ball together again☺

All the photos above were taken by Patrick C. Lentz,
one of the best people in the world!


frank said...

That picture of you and that pink bat is a classic. The other pics brought back some nice memories, we had some great times didn't we?

Oh, and I love your teams logo..a frolicking, playful pup with his ass in the air! LOL

Menky said...

LOL! Yes, I found that picture recently and I have no memory of ever holding a bat. I must have liked the color!

It's funny how time goes by, seeing the picture of the Bear Hill Cafe Team was a hoot!

Yea, the Pups logo is very suggestive, leave it to gay softball!

Miss ya Frank!

Patrick said...

You guys are pervs. I never thought the cute puppy logo was suggestive at all! But...I am the one who had a model pose with a softball bat and two softballs between his legs. hehe