Friday, May 2, 2014

Jewish Boys Who Cannot Play Baseball Play Baseball

Most Saturdays in winter, The Kid Brother bowls with an organized group. He's very good. Most Sundays in spring/summer, he plays baseball (well, softball)* in Central Park. And, again, he's very good.

*If you're interested in learning the rules of baseball (and the difference between baseball and softball), click here.

THE KID BROTHER ABOUT TO WALLOP A WIFFLE BALL.
(SUMMER CAMP VISITING DAY, 1971, RAMAPO, NEW YORK.)

I'm also a very good bowler (well I used to be). I was even better than The Kid Brother (but don't tell him that). As for baseball, that's me in the video at the bottom. Well, it's not really me. It's an actor, Jonathan C. Kaplan, playing a kid named Jason in the Broadway musical "Falsettos," which we saw in New York in 1992, the year before we moved from Guilford, Connecticut to San Diego, California. I was never as nerdy as Jason (at least I don't think I was). But, other than that, it could be me up at bat in that song.

AT THE AGE OF 5, I DIDN'T PLAY, BUT I LOOKED GOO-OOD IN UNIFORM!
(AND I HAD THE BEST COLLECTION OF BASEBALL CARDS.)

I don't think I've actually played baseball since I was 10 years old. I remember playing at school. I usually struck out. One time, I got a huge hit. A powerful fly ball into an unguarded left field. I was so stunned that I forgot to run. I just watched in awe as the ball sailed through the air. Even with my delayed start, I made it to third base. I then watched the next three players strike out. Game over.

AT THE AGE OF 8, I GOT HIT IN THE EYE WITH A BASEBALL BAT.
(I THOUGHT I HAD BEEN PLAYING CATCHER,
BUT MY MOTHER THINKS I WAS JUST SITTING AND WATCHING.)

Another time, we had a man (a boy) on first base and two outs. I got up to bat and everyone, including me, knew I would strike out and the game would be over. But I didn't strike out. I hit a double! And I remembered to run! Unfortunately, my dippy teammate at 1st base decided to try to run all the way to home plate. He got tagged out. The game was over anyway and no one slapped me on the back for hitting a power double.

I've been for walks on the beach here and have come across groups of boys (teens) playing baseball, of sorts. It's not a common sight here in Spain. But even more strange is that, whenever someone hits the ball, he runs the bases in the opposite (wrong?) direction. Clockwise instead of counter-clockwise. It made me think of the song about Jason playing baseball, which hasn't stopped playing in my head for several days. Your turn!


Obviously, not only Jewish boys who cannot play baseball play baseball.

25 comments:

  1. Love the title! Great to hear of your bowling prowess, and your successful at-bats. Didn't realize what a good sports-stud you are. You are my idol.

    As for me, in softball, I was called "Easy Out Jo" (which, I guess, is better than "Easy Jo"), and I lived up/down to my name. Bowling was OK; I was on a league and they didn't laugh at me - much. Due to my height, basketball was my game, playing roving center - which means that I could play the whole court and not have to watch so I didn't cross the mid-court line.

    Ah, youth - so fleeting! Best wishes to you and San Geraldo.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Jo:
      I wouldn't really call them successful at-bats. No one noticed! As for basketball, although I was usually a head taller than just about everyone else, I still lost!

      Delete
  2. Ah youth! Don't feel bad (and you shouldn't because bowling is an art/precision sport) Mitchell! You weren't the only kid at that time not to make it to the 'big leagues'. Hey, you were on a team and got to play! I never made it to any team.....never got past 'try-outs'. BOO HOO. I did get over it in a few years. Oh yeah, ALL my kid brothers (4 of them) made some team or other!! Damn kid brothers!! lol
    I really liked bowling and was on a team during university. I even got a trophy!
    Cute pics of you and your brother. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Jim:
      Oh, I don't want you to have the wrong impression. I was never on an official time (I would have run in the opposite direction if asked... and one thing I could do was run). I only played when I had to at school. (And that one time I got the shiner.)

      Delete
  3. When I was a kid, softball was also called kitten ball. I never knew why. We were like that in my corner of Minnesota. While everyone else was playing Duck-Duck-Goose, we were playing Duck-Duck-Gray Duck.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      I've never heard of kitten ball. Hilarious. I learned about Duck-Duck-Gray Duck some years ago at a performance of "The Girls" in Minnesota (a singing group Erin Schwab was with). They told a hilarious story involving Erin and that game. (And Erin even acted out a bit of the game, to help people appreciate why her Minnesota version was so much better.)

      Delete
  4. Mitchell, baseball for me so strange and I have never played it. But the rules of this game are so interesting.Maybe one day I should try. Why not.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Gosia:
      The rules can be very confusing if you didn't grow up with the game. We once tried to explain them to a cousin in Norway. It was hilarious.

      Each game has 9 innings "What's an inning?" Each inning has three outs. "What's an out?" Each up-at-bat can have four balls and one strike? "Huh?!?!" You get the idea!

      Delete
  5. School sports, my nightmare. Which way did we run? I am fairly sure it was anti clockwise, so it wasn't the influence of which way the water spirals down the plughole or which side of the road we drove on.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Andrew:
      I initially included the concept of perhaps being on the opposite side of the earth and therefore, like flushing toilets might do, they have to go in the opposite direction. Then I decided I was going off on one too many tangents. Thanks for bringing it up!

      Delete
  6. Sports at school
    I was always picked last
    Awful feelings

    ReplyDelete
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    1. John:
      Most of the time, I prayed to be picked last. In basketball, I was usually picked first. BIG mistake. Tall... but no talent.

      Delete
  7. Ow ow ow your poor face after meeting the baseball bat!! OW!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Knatolee:
      And I still have the scar. Lucky not to lose the eye. I was actually kind of proud of the shiner, which was unbelievably hideous at first. But Robin Kramer (who sat to my right in school) made me cover my eye with a handkerchief.

      Delete
  8. Hi Mitchell, nice shiner. I'm just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chris:
      Thanks so much for stopping and for introducing yourself (and for the kinds words). I will definitely give your blog my first visit this weekend.

      Delete
  9. The last time I played ball I was roped into being a line coach for our son's little league game. Because of my directions three runners ended up on third at the same time. This was my last involvement with playing ball.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stephen:
      Great idea. One single and they'd all be home... Or doesn't it work that way?

      Delete
  10. You were very cute in that uniform. Seems you were a lot more adventurous in the sporting world than I. I've described in detail why I hate baseball on my blog a a couple of years ago and the thought of having to play still gives me a feeling of nausea. (http://reluctantrebel.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-i-hate-baseball.html)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Frank:
      My parents had high hopes with that uniform. No, I wasn't adventurous in sporting. I just make it sound better when I tell the stories. The only time I played baseball was when I forced to... except for the time that I might have been playing when I got the shiner. And that's only because my sister was there to protect me. The only sport I enjoyed (other than bowling, which may not really be a sport) was running. Oh, and I love working out on my own. I love exercise but I hate the judging that goes with organized athletics.

      Thanks for the link. I look forward to reading your baseball post over the weekend... and to getting caught up on the rest of my reading, too.!

      Delete
  11. I played softball......I'm so sorry you got hit with that bat! Maybe your mother was right! But maybe not!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Kristi:
      My sister, a neighbor named Vincent, and I were playing. I know I was catching at one point. I remember that Vincent hit the ball, threw the bat so he could run, and the flying bat hit me in the eye. About 40 years later, my mother said I had been sitting on the curb. But she wasn't even there. I ran home with my baseball cap (NY Yankees) over my face -- "to protect my eye." My mother got a neighbor to take us to the hospital. I told her proudly that I protected my eye with the baseball cap. She responded, "You probably got germs in your eye from that dirty hat!" While we were away, my sister went back out and punched Vincent. I figure if I can remember all those details, I could be right about what I was doing when the bat hit me!

      Delete
  12. What a wonderful sister! She really had your back....And yes, I think your memory is excellent. And you were the one who was there!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Kristi:
      Unlike me, my sister was tough. One time, she was waiting for me at the school bus stop (which she didn't usually do). It happened that I was having an argument with another kid as we left the bus. She walked right up to him and punched him. Then she walked me home.

      Delete

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