The perfect introduction
Published 12:00 am Friday, July 21, 2006
With the pings of aluminum bats, and the roar of the crowd and the endless clouds of diamond dust filling the air, the idea of how to properly introduce myself to the readers of the Demopolis Times became clear.
My introduction is a story of my most humbling moment.
Now, let me preface this by saying that it does involve rec sports and it does involve a baseball diamond and to this day, I’m a walking hardware store because of it.
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I had come back to Alex City after my first year at Troy and had joined a church league softball team and we were horrible.
Now, readers, to give you a picture of just how bad we were we got shelled one night 42-3 in slowpitch softball. We were literally the team that everyone wanted on their schedule.
We were to church league softball what the University of Tennessee was to college football this past season – abysmal.
Ok, the humbling part. I had started dating someone and being well young and dumb I wanted to impress her.
So, I figured that since I was a broke college student, I could impress her with my athletic prowess.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me be honest with you for a moment. Those of you who have seen me around town can tell that I am not built for speed. Well, I wasn’t back in the day either.
The night came when I finally had my opportunity to impress her. We were playing a team that could have been compared to the Atlanta Braves at the first part of the season – unable to make contact with a baseball stemming from their inability to correctly handle and/or operate a bat.
They were, in a word, terrible.
The night’s air was thick with excitement, we were both tearing up the competition with a combined record of 0-23. Someone was going to get their first win of the season and I was going to do my best to make sure it was our team, as I tried to rally the group of 30 and 40 year olds that were on the team with me.
The first two innings were uneventful with both teams putting five runs on the board.
We held them to three straight outs in the top of the second. In the bottom half of that inning, it was our time to make an impact.
With one on and one out and my girlfriend at the time sitting less than 20 feet away from the dish, I adjusted my brand new batting gloves and confidently strode to the plate ready to make an impact.
Let me stop for a second – For those of you who have seen me around, you know I wear glasses.
In this scenario, I hadn’t figured out that I needed them at night yet.
The first two pitches came in too high. The third pitch was fouled off for a ball.
I readjusted and stepped back in for the fourth pitch.
It was a perfect slowpitch softball pitch, just the right amount of arc and just the right amount of spin.
I figured that a pitch like this should be addressed with the perfect slowpitch softball swing. I stepped into and heard that sweet ping when bat meets ball.
I sprinted out of the box figuring the ball had to have been blasted a country mile. I quickly made the turn to head for second partly due to youthful exuberance and partly due to my mistaking the basecoach’s screams of “Woooo!, wooo!, wooo!,” for “Gooooo!, Gooo!, Goooooo!”
After spltting the difference between the two bases in full stride it became blatantly evident that the ball wasn’t hit a country mile, not even a country yard. It had bounced just over the short stop.
I was dead to rights out at second.
Once again, the youthful exuberance came into play. I decided if I was going to be out by a mile, I’m at least going to look goood doing so.
I sprinted to the bag as the leftfielder flipped the ball to the shortstop.
The shortstop, who was an ordained Methodist minister flipped the ball to second base as I hit the dirt.
Now, at this point in my life it dawned on me that I should have paid more attention while we were having sliding practice in Dixie ball.
My spike caught in the dirt and due to the torque combined the with whole unrelenting force versus an immovable object equation – something had to give. I never realized it would be a bone.
Only I didn’t know it at the time. I rolled, and rolled and rolled a couple of more times before finally stopping on the other side of second with a crowd of folks standing around me.
I felt my ankle roll and thought that at worst, I had just dislocated it. It wasn’t until I attempted to stand and walk it off that I realized something was incredibly wrong.
I attempted to put weight on it. It was an attempt that was unsuccessful.
Through clinched teeth and fighting back tears I sat there for a second trying to figure out how miniscule I would look crawling across the diamond.
“You need CPR,” the Methodist minister asked.
“That’s not the end I’m worried about,” I replied through clinched teeth.
I was helped off the field and into the car with a one-way ticket to the emergency room.
Two days later I had surgery to fix the “extreme trauma that had occurred to my left leg.”
I had broken my leg, destroyed my ankle and then on top of everything else, sprarined my foot.
The orthopod on call put things back together with a 12″ steel plate and a screaming lot of screws, 10 to be exact.
Replaying the scenario in my head reminded me of the lesson youth brings – think things through thoroughly. I realized that no matter how great I thought I was at the time, ignoring the small details will come back to bite you.
It’s that simple.
Griffin Pritchard is the editor of the Demopolis Times. His column will appear every Saturday. Griffin can be reached by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 334-289-4017.