“You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” – Former major leaguer & Author Jim Bouton
I’ve been told – more often than I can count – to take a walk.
I have sacrificed.
Took lots of pitches and touched all the bases. Made it to a few when I probably shouldn’t have, gotten thrown out when I tried to take an extra one…often experienced the thrill of sliding in safe at home.
There are times when I have been left stranded, others when I have been benched. I have been shelled, and pulled for a reliever who could close out what I started.
I have made more than a few long, slow walks back to the dugout.
I loved the game and life – and it returned the favor far more often than it could let me down. Oh yeah, a few pennant races broke my heart – but isn’t that life in a nut shell? I’ve had good winning streaks and a few tough loses.
Hurled a few biting changeups of my own, too. Others will tell you there are times when I’ve been a real screwball.
Sometimes I’ve had to play hardball. I have usually won.
I have been thrown out, tagged out, shut out.
I have balked.
I have loved the game – my life – it has returned the favor.
Now, the grass is greener than ever, lush and rich; the sky is always a vivid blue. In my mind I can always I feel the breeze on my face, breathe in the aroma of oiled leather, hear the distant crack of solid horsehide colliding with polished ash.
Someday I’ll be rounding third and headed for home, with someone waving me on. I’ll know then as I do now that it’s been a grand and glorious event, an extra-innings affair to remember; a ninth inning grand slam in every sense.
It’s hopefully a long time before I need to come out of the game, many years before I’ll need a curtain call to acknowledge the home crowd, tip my hat and then disappear, headed for the clubhouse to hang up my gear for the last time.
Not now, not today.
Hope, potential and promise fill the air, a game has yet to be lost.
A long, blissful summer awaits. There will be highlights and losing streaks, rainouts and glorious days you’ll hope will not end. For now, the joy is in simply taking the field again.
As Ernie Banks always says, “It’s a great day to play two!”