John F. Russell: The garage sale can wait, I still want to play games
Steamboat Springs — There are lots of things I need to do this summer.
I need to clean out the drawers and closets in my home, I need to clean out my completely cluttered garage and possibly even host the largest garage sale my neighborhood has ever seen. I wouldn’t have to invite any of my friends because I have enough crap to fill my entire driveway.
The one thing I really didn’t need to do was sign up to play with the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s adult D league softball team. I’ve spent years playing the game, and while I may not want to accept it, my best playing days are probably somewhere in the past. But like I said, I’m still not ready to accept that, so when the sign up sheet was passed around the office earlier this spring, I put my name on it.
We played our first games of the season last Wednesday, and in the days following the game, I realized why it was a mistake to put my name on the list of players. I’m in pretty good shape this year, so the sore muscles came a couple of days after the game and didn’t last. However, the raspberry on my hip, the scrapes on my elbows and the fact that one of my pinky fingers is twice its normal size size and a different color than the other one is a constant reminder that I’m in my late 40s, and softball isn’t always soft.
Fact is, I need to have a garage sale where I could part with that HealthRider that collects dust in the corner of my garage and say goodbye to that pair of inline skates that should have rolled away years ago — and to that bat bag filled with softballs, gloves and bats.
The bag deserves a prominent place in any garage sale I might have in the future with a price that nobody in their right mind could pass up. In fact, it might be cheaper for me to offer people money to take the bag rather than pay to see the doctor for what might well be a broken finger.
But while I might be 48, my mind simply refuses to accept it. Every year, I swear this will be my last on the softball field, but when the time comes, I step up, sign up and pay my player’s fees. Sadly, in my head, I still thing I’m 24 again. I feel like I’m indestructible when I’m on the field. The ball always seems within reach, and diving on the ground to come up with that much needed third out has to be worth it, right?
Then the sun comes up the next morning, and all those feelings of youth are gone. I feel every muscle as I pull myself out of bed, I feel every scrape when I sit down in my car and I feel every bruise when I bend over.
Welcome to the life of an adult softball player. You would think I would have to get paid to feel this way — but that isn’t the case. I play the game voluntarily, and despite all the set backs in the days that follow those games, I’ll be the first to admit it’s a really good time.
Sure there are lots of things I need to do this summer. But I guess they can wait, because I’m still not ready to give up the bag filled with softballs, gloves and bats. I’m still not ready to give up the chance to get out and play a game I learned to love as a child and a game that still makes me feel like a child when I play it.
I love the feeling of the ball hitting the bat, I love the feeling of the ball smacking the leather of a glove and I love walking off the field with my jersey covered with the red dust from the infield.
I still love the game, and as long as my body will hold up, I plan to keep playing with my friends and teammates on weekday nights. After all, it’s a lot more fun than cleaning out the drawers and closets in my home and a lot more fun than organizing the clutter in my garage.
The garage sale can always wait until another weekend, another year.
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