My favorite moment in sports

I am not an athlete. Never have been, likely never will be.
This is not to say I’m a complete sloth, just mediocre of skill. I can play what a dear friend of mine calls “picnic volleyball,” for example, and do the kind of casual hiking that crops up on camping trips. But I know my limits, and that my ice skating ability is enough to keep me going around in circles, not doing the quick changes of directions required for hockey.
Part of it might be the split-second reactions many sports need. I’m not a bad golfer. But in golf, you get plenty of time to get ready and think about exactly what you’re doing, all while people are expected to be quiet.
It also took me a long time to get to that point. My husband, seeing my lack of skill in a number of activities, would try to help and often ended up baffling me. Once when we were bowling, he told me I was stepping off on the wrong foot. I was dumbfounded nearly into paralysis. I had to think about what foot to step off with? Because apparently it wasn’t instinctual.
Golf was fraught with instruction, but only briefly. He wanted to tell me about how to hold my hands on the club, how to line up my feet, how to swing through, not to pick my head up … and that I should incorporate this all at once. Shut up, I finally had to say. I’m going to add these things one at a time, and you just suffer watching in the meantime. Silently. Now we’re great scramble partners. I can’t shoot long, but I shoot straight, while he has the distance but hooks madly.
Softball has plagued me forever. I played for two seasons as a child, and mercifully was allowed to quit. I was on an office team again as an adult, suffering humiliation in the name of camaraderie.
I cannot throw a softball properly, nor for any distance. My husband, the long-suffering pitcher, learned to take a few steps forward to retrieve the throws back from me, put at catcher as the position of least harm. Every pitch was a small torture, because if the batter didn’t connect, I was running to the backstop to retrieve the ball, run back to the plate and throw badly and short.
It’s not for lack of trying. A good number of quite good players have attempted to teach me proper ball throwing. It feels wrong, and I have yet to master it. Maybe with video instruction, but our team dissolved a couple of summers ago so I haven’t pursued that.
When we had plenty of females and I could stay in the dugout, I kept score. My manager buddy asked me to learn so he could pay better attention to the game. I don’t think he remembered my great fondness for filling out forms. I grew to love scorekeeping, which was both fun and useful.
Occasionally we needed female bodies on the field, and I batted. I am very picky, and walked sometimes. Struck out more than walked. Sometimes got on base. Once was struck on the back of the head as I ran to second and the first baseman tried to throw me out. Occasionally scored.
Much as I like golf, with its deliberate pace and beautiful surroundings, my favorite moment playing sports comes in softball, my nemesis.
The sweetest instant is when I’m on base with two out. No strategizing, no straining to hear, no desperate looking for instructions. Just listen for the crack of the bat and run, run, run. Listen and run.
So simple. So perfect.

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