I’m the idiot you see out there pitching baseballs past invisible batters into an invisible catcher’s mitt, sometimes on the Sautee Nacoochee ball field and sometimes in one of the batting cages/nets/things at the recreation department complex. Rather than going after dragons disguised as windmills, I’m chasing something more elusive.
It’s an addiction that has come along late in life, a desperate cling to spring in the autumn of my years. The last time I played competitive baseball was almost 30 years ago. Last year, before I turned 60, I got it in my head to start tossing the old horsehide around again. It’s not competitive, but it is meditative. And it feels like a connection to something old, even older than my childhood. Wind up, step, throw.
That’s me, the baseball guy who forgot his cap.
There must have been something in the horsehide zeitgeist, because soon after I started pretending to be the white Satchel Paige (April 2020), I read about this book. I think the writer might be a kindred spirit. The main difference, of course, is that he went on the road to connect with people over games of catch, and I stayed in my neighborhood and invited people to play during a pandemic. Sometimes they played but mostly they stayed home, so mostly I played alone, pitching my bag of baseballs into a backstop, retrieving them, jogging back to the mound, and pitching again.
I don’t know why I started. Something was missing in my life, probably. Well, baseball, obviously. But maybe it was the pandemic, the topsy-turvy feeling that the world had tilted awkwardly forever, the feeling that things never would be the same again. I wondered if that theory held true for my curveball, which rarely ever curved. Turns out, it did. The curveball is snapping in ways that I can neither explain nor control — but I’m getting better, more strikes than wild pitches now.
None of it matters, or all of it does, or some of it does. All I know is, after almost 30 years of hardly ever throwing anything besides a fit, the old starboard soup bone feels good, feels like it could go nine innings. As long as the batters are invisible. It would be nice to have someone to throw the ball back, though.
Whaddya say? I’ve got some extra gloves, about a dozen (mostly round) baseballs in a bag, even a few softballs somewhere. Even have a few bats. We can hit fly balls to each other. Wanna be 12-years-old for a few moments in the sun or under a turbulent sky?