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  • Last night was my last night of softball for the Spring Season. Summer Season starts up this Sunday, but I’ll miss the first week, as we leave today for our long awaited VACATION! South Carolina. Family. Beach. Bug-A-Rum. Mah Johng. Scrabble. Reading. Reading some more. Writing. Heaven!

    Since I started playing ball again at age fifty, eight years ago, this was surely the most satisfying of seasons, in so many ways. For one thing, my main team that I’ve managed and played on for the past eight years, the Diamond Flames, won it’s second championship in 3 years. We did it without our biggest gun, who went down before our first game with a sprained ankle, and we did it with over half the team playing through significant injuries, myself included (sprained knee). This year’s team was the best “team” I’ve been associated with, in terms of everyone pulling together, no prima donas, and different players picking the team up at different points through the season. These guys really inspired me with how they conducted themselves.

    We started out splitting our first eight games, and were only 4-4 at that point. Then, we won 10 of our last 12 games, finishing at 14-6. We had to win all 4 games last weekend to take it home, and we did. So satisfying bringing it home, especially since last year, we twice played for the championship in the final games of the season, and came up short both times. To bring it home this time was especially sweet.

    It’s also been the most satisfying season for me, for my own performance. I began really concerned that age was finally catching up to me, and trying to gracefully concede to age. But, somewhere along the line, something deep down inside my soul said “Screw that! You’re only as old as you think you are!” I would have kept myself on the bench and just batted up in the first half of the season, but I kept coming up short on players, and I would have to play in the field. Third base was the most logical place to play myself, and I proceeded to have my best year ever, there. I tore it up.

    At the plate, I have no idea where my production came from. I just had a better focus than I ever have. Maybe all the crap with work made it that much more important for me to find enjoyment on the ball field, I don’t know, but I just kept hitting doubles and getting RBIs (Runs Batted In), and wound up leading the team in both categories. Me, the old guy out there.
  • One of the real enjoyments, and pleasant surprises, of this season has been young Mike. Last year, this guy just drove me nuts. When he was on, he was great, but some nights, it seemed he could barely find the plate, and would make a ton of errors in the field. It was obvious that he had a substance abuse issue – suspended license for DUI, always needed rides to and from games, just a real pain in the rear. I didn’t even ask him to play with us this year. He had let it be known that he was interested, and when 3 key players went down with injury early on, I decided to give Mike another shot – I was desperate!

    Whatever was going on with him last year, he’s apparently over it, or has it under control. He and I have wound up being the dynamic duo this year. We’ve actually played on three different teams together (we both helped Derek out with his Church team the past couple weeks), and we just egg each other on. He’s my biggest cheerleader in the dugout, and his play has been steady, playing within himself most of the time, and solid. I realized that part of what bothered me about him is I see so much of myself in him – I see what a pain in the ass I was when I was young and full of myself, overly competitive but irrational and unreliable. He has taken to using me as a mentor, and it’s like he is growing up right before my eyes. It’s really been gratifying to see. He still drives me nuts at times – his enthusiasm still trumps his brain at times on the field, and doesn’t always make the smart play, but he’s now learning from that, and doesn’t make the same mistakes over and over. I’m really glad I brought him back.

    Last night was just ridiculous. Wayne had me batting lead off – I don’t think that’s ever happened before! I’ve batted second on his team a lot, especially when his wife Liz makes out the lineup. She’s been a big fan for awhile, and knows that I always respond to that lineup spot by producing. She’s the one that first noticed that I had asthma. She’s a nurse. Anyway, something about being in that lead off spot must have really inspired me last night, because I cracked three triples – more than I had all season on my team – two doubles, and got on all but once all night, between the two games. The way my knee has been this week, I was actually thinking of asking Wayne to have someone run for me whenever I got on base, but once the game got going, I forgot all about the knee.

    Now, I get to rest up for the next 10 days. I’m ready for the break. But, as I relax on the beach, I will relish having just completed the finest season of my career. Maybe by next year, I’ll lose a step, and age will finally catch up. But not this year – not now. I’m keeping one step ahead of that sucker, for as long as I possibly can. Eat my dust, age!
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    Pictured: - (1) Team shot after winning the championship (2) Cahmpionship trophy in front of my baseball memorabilia corner in my cave
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