Thursday Night at the Ol’ Ball Yard

22 Jul

by Jim Holzman

Thursday night is softball night in my world.  I’ve been part of this team for more than thirty years.  This year is quickly becoming one of the most challenging.  Our record to date is 0-8, with two games to play.  Although we would like to win one of the last two, there’s a part of me that would be okay being 0-10 (a new record for us).  Maybe we could all wear the number 0 on our jerseys.  My idea has found little support among my teammates.  I guess some of them don’t view things the same way that I do.

The name of our team is the “Pointers,” named after Point beer which is brewed in Wisconsin (long story and not all that interesting – they gave us free hats!).  On this year’s edition of the Pointers, there are 4 of my brothers, 6 nephews, 1 brother-in-law and a few friends to fill out the roster.  The oldest player is 56, the youngest is 16.  Over the years we have had a fair amount of success.  The last few years have become a bit more challenging like (0-8 challenging).

The role that I currently find myself playing on this team is a constant struggle -between many different areas of my brain and other teammates.  I usually get to the park at about 6, our games start at 6:30.  After exchanging pleasantries with a few of my teammates, I proceed to put on my spikes.  Over the years, I have learned to drag out this process.  The way I see it, the less time that I spend practicing the less chance of getting hit with a softball, which, by the way is not all that soft.  During practice, I usually position myself far away from the guy smacking the ball with the bat.  I figure, if he is going to hit me with the ball, he is going to have to earn it. 

 Although I do still have some vision left that allows me to keep a spot  on this team, my playing time is scarce.  There are many reasons for this, the first being me.  Although I still enjoy playing, after many, many years of denial, I am starting to accept the obvious: that there are better players on the team, and, oh yeah, I am visually impaired.  I sometimes still struggle with my desire to play as compared to my disdain for hospital emergency rooms.  The second reason is the other guys on the team, mainly my brothers – I do realize that they are truly concerned for my safety, but they still want to win.  If I am in the game and commit an error (a 75% chance probability), the response is varied amongst the players, most are encouraging, some are “come on, catch the ball”, but the one that perplexes me the most is that someone will inevitably say “he didn’t see it” or something to that effect.  That kinda bothers me because even though I know other people should play ahead of me, when they make an error, it isn’t met with the same reaction or comment.  But, on the flip side, people are sometimes amazed when I make any plays at all. 

 So I usually coach third base, this keeps me involved and is closer to my beer.  People often ask, “How can you coach if you can’t see the ball?)  I usually tell them that I watch the fielders and their reactions.  In truth, I just guess.  After all, it’s just a game!

So here’s the recap of our last game: We had a decent first inning – we were leading 2-0. Unfortunately, according to the rules, the other team gets to bat too.  We lost 15-3. We all took it fairly well.  Most of us have realized what we have become – the team that other teams can’t wait to play.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen (and got old).  We have talked about hanging ‘em up and retiring, as we probably should, but we are still having fun and besides, there is nothing good on TV Thursday nights.

 Thanks for reading.  Tryouts will be in early May 2012, see ya then,

Jim Holzman was diagnosed with RP 25 years ago.  He worked at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Board of Trade for 22 years.  He has now been a volunteer at the Guild for the Blind for the last year.


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