Sometimes you agree to do things that you almost immediately regret. Maybe you are not that kind of person, but I most certainly am. A little more than a year ago, Dora asked me to join her and Swiper’s ball team to round out the list of required ladies. They were in dire need of another member with two X chromosomes, and apparently no other qualifications. They were happy to take on Birdman as well, but it was Mrs. Birdman who was going to make the team legal in the league.
Because I am the type of person who was rarely picked in any team sport, I was thrilled to be included, and jumped at the chance to join the ‘Stray Cats’ in the Castleton 3-Pitch Sports Club. I say jumped, because i literally jumped up and down in excitement. I wasn’t really thinking about how I was going to actually have to play ball, but more that I was finally part of an actual team that wasn’t forced to pick me! Yayyyy!
It was around the first game when the most severe case of nerves struck. I came to the ball field, suited up in my favorite biking shorts, a shirt and my runners. My brand-new ball glove probably still had the tag on it. I was so green it hurt. I had to face the fact that I had not played any type of organized sports in more than 25 years. I truly wondered what had possessed me to think I could join a team of players that had been playing together for years. The sheer, unparalleled fear that overtook me was hard to ignore. I had a queasy, rolling stomach at each and every game we played. Going out to bat was torture. I could barely hit, and when I did, I was easily thrown out at first or second. In addition to having a less than mediocre hitting prowess, I couldn’t run OR catch either. I spent most of the first season waiting to be purposely benched in favor of faster, more agile, and better-looking players hitting the field to defend our honour, but that never happened. Shockingly, they let me play every time. The team even let me kick one of our ladies out of the coveted bat-catch position, because truly, there isn’t too much damage that one can do behind the plate in 3-pitch. I rarely had any opportunity to do anything but watch the plays, and return the ball to the pitcher when required. Easy-peezy.
I have to admit…eventually my fear turned to anticipation. I started to really enjoy playing ball, and I really enjoyed the members of my team. This awesome group of friends made us feel like part of the team right from the first day. I learned later on that ours is one of the most fun teams in the league, and we seem to have just about as much fun as you can have with a ball uniform on.
Swiper’s business sponsors the team, and he is the best short stop around. There is rarely a ball that can get by him, unless he’s got an injury or he’s been hitting the beer cooler too hard. Even then, he’s 100x better than I’ll ever hope to be. He can pitch, hit and catch, and he’s hell on wheels when he gets rounding those bases. When he was out with a knee injury last year, we didn’t fare that well without him. Luckily, he came back early (not recommended) to help us fight back (very recommended) and regain our mid-level standings on the field. His lady, Dora, nicknamed ‘Scrappy’, is a fiery ginger. Legend has it that she was front and center in an epic ball-brawl at a tournament a few years back. It was quite a melee, and there are still people who don’t speak because of it. (So sad I missed it!). The good news, is that Dora, like Swiper, can hit, catch AND run. She’s a triple threat on the field, but a sweetie on the bench.
Slugger is married to Shifter, and she’s a swinger with a heart of gold. She can hit. I mean, she can really hit, and she’s one of my favorite athletic supporters on the bench. Shifter is in the executive for the club (yay for POWER!) and he’s our trusty 3rd baseman. Rounding out the rest of our roster, is Skye (2nd), Jamie, Jeremy, Mel, Wes, Ange, and Handsome Kenny, all fabulously fantastic people, and the funnest ball team in the history of the universe. I say this with utmost confidence.
It’s fantastic to be part of a team again. The Stray Cats are full of fun, support, encouragement, and occasional naughtiness. There will always be someone to slap your back (or your butt cheeks), congratulate you on a great play, or console you when you didn’t quite make the grade. I have come to look forward to Sunday ball, and gathering with this fantastic group of friends. There is something about the feeling of belonging that they give to me that makes it irrelevant that I am never going to be a decent player. I feel like a part of the team, and I know that when they are playing without us, they are feeling our absence. I hate it when anyone misses a game, not because I think we can’t be without them, but because I miss them when they are gone. I love what this team has done for reminding me what teamwork and effort can truly achieve, and how great it is to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Tonight it looked like we were going to get our asses handed to us by the Hot Shots. They had us down 7 runs in the first inning, but by the end, the score was 10-9 for them. Sure, they beat us, but they definitely didn’t spank us. We pulled up our orange, stripe-y socks in the second inning, and worked hard to bring it back. We played together, and worked together, and had a great game. We laughed, and we cut up, and we may have even done a few Stray Cat Struts.
Some of us have been getting together to practice outside of our regular games. It’s not so much that we feel like we have to practice (although we definitely do), but more because we love running around together, working up a sweat, and spending time as a team. It seems there are not enough hours dedicated to our Cats in the week, and we feel the need to find a few more. So in that spirt, I’ll see y’all again next Thursday, and Sunday, and any other day you want to get together as a team. I’ll be there. 🙂
I’m flat broke but I don’t care, I strut right by with my tail in the air.