Monday, March 3, 2008

"A Day of Reminiscing"

Off the subject of my book this week I thought I would share something personal. This week I prepared for a fundraising baseball game some guys from North Side High School put together to help the NSHS baseball team. We learned late last year that North Side no longer has a booster program to help fund the team for suiteable equipment and uniforms, etc. My friend Julian Ortiz contacted me and asked me to play an Alumni (Old-School) baseball tournament to help rally support and funds for the boys at my alma mater. With the help of the baseball coaches and the good ole' word-of-mouth we were able to put together three teams, a 20+ team, a 25+ team and the old-school 30+ boys which I played on to play in a round-robin style tournament.

We originally planned on hosting the tournament in February but the weather had us post-pone that plan. We practiced every Sunday for several weeks preparing for the big day, knowing we were all just old enough to need it but proud enough to know we had to do our best to look good. See most of the guys on the 30+ team all grew up playing baseball together at Riverside Little League and again in high-school. It is our passion and it was obvious yesterday when we gathered together, for as my friend Josh Villarreal put it, for one last shot at our former glory. It started out fun, with trash-talkin and smiles coupled with worried looks of concern for our own physical ability to last two full games. It seemed like only yesterday when we were riding on the bus together after tournaments or away-games telling mama-jokes (or old-lady jokes as we called them back then) and cuttin' up on one another in the fashion we have always known to bond. At the end of the day, we walked off the field with smiles on our faces...knowing we were only moments away from a warm bath, a big meal and lots of muscle rub.

We opened the tournament against the 25+ team and to be honest, they made us look like 30 year-olds. We were slower and sort of out of it, fighting off jitters as much as we were fighting off pitches and dropped balls. But our attitude was resilient and arrogant--just like it was in our youth. In the end the umpire instituded a "mercy" rule, just like little league and after they scored 5 runs in an inning, we had an automatic change of possession so to speak, where they took the field to allow us a chance at being competitive--that and it allowed us to maintain some dignity as our families were there to watch the slaughter. But as surely as the weather changes in Texas (its actually snowing right now outside) the second game was much different. We played the 20+ year-old team and they were younger, faster and more youthful in every aspect of the game. But there seemed to be something missing in them that was not at all missing from our team. It was something that could not be taught or acquired by fancy sports-gear or magazines, coaching or even the look of a baseball player; it was something you were either born with or not--and ladies and gentlemen we had it yesterday and it bore it proudly--it was the pride and passion that comes with playing the game so close to your heart, your past and all things good about a childhood worth remembering.
In the end we whooped some tail. Richard Ortiz was on the mound and although I never got to catch him when we were younger (I am a catcher by the way), it was obvious we missed out on some sweet science as this battery worked like a champ and his change-up was embarrassingly slow but it made his fastball look faster and in the end, they were embarrassed at the plate more than we were. We gave them a pounding and we played like young boys again. We smiled, cheered, (talked more trash) and ran as hard as we could (Yes, even you Onesimo, despite being thrown out every time you touched the field) and we made big plays. Benito Mercado proved he still had a cannon-arm after throwing out a runner who tried to stretch a single into a double. "Super Loop" Lupe Mendez and I connected to put out a runner after I heard someone say they were going to "steal [bases] all day" because the catcher "was old." Josh Villarreal and I connected at home plate making a big grand finale with a play at home to end the ballgame. George Cardona added some excitement in the outfield booting some balls but we can blame that on the wind brother--don't worry about it. In the end, everyone got in on the action and it was worth the wait and the pain we are all feeling today. A special thanks to our Native American friend who came all the way from the Kennedy Reservation to be there for the game.

If you didn't know any better, we were the younger team--young in spirit--and we won. So many emotions were stirred up from my past yesterday and it was enough to make you feel your age and almost feel sad at knowing those days are gone and will never come back to us again, maybe in a spur-of-the-moment chance tournament fundraiser like yesterday but not like they were--not like years ago when we had our whole lives before us. We played baseball yesterday like men who had no worries, no bills or any real responsibilities and I think it was good for each of us in our own way. I can say this much for me: I may surely write about it one day...it's the least I can do to honor the friendships I have acquired over the years and relationships I have maintained because of this great game of baseball...yes, I think I will write about it one day...and oh what a story it would make.
Thanks guys for making it such a great day!

Click here to read the Fort Worth ISD Press Release!

(Back to the book)
PS: We Wanna Know:
Don't forget to listen to this week's edition of "PS: We Wanna Know" where I answer the question of my new friend Tommy who moderates the Seymour Police Departments MySpace site and answer his question: "How in the world did you come to write a story that takes place in Seymour?"
Click here to listen.

Bobby on CultureFeast.com
Click here to read a continuation to my article on CultureFeast.com "Marketing Tips for Self-Published Authors." Remember, every week I post an article to help you in your quest for successful self-publication.

NEW "Proud Souls" Review:
Click here to read the latest review of my debut literary novel: Proud Souls as written by Michael Timlin of Authors on the Rise.

Bobby's Useless Information: Baseball
In continuing with my commitment to provide you with useless information every week, and in keeping with the theme of this week's blog, I will give you a bit of useless information regarding the game of baseball.


"The earliest recorded use of the word "baseball" in English is in Jane Austen's (book) Northanger Abbey, copyright 1890."

*from The Encyclopedia of Useless Information by William Hartston ISBN: 978-1-4022-0828-7*

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