I got this idea from Bill over at A Silly Place, and since I haven’t had any good blog post ideas lately, I thought I’d write my own post answering the question, “If you had to choose an event in your life to write a memoir about, what event would you choose?”
It’s less of a specific event and more of an experience but it’s one that I’d definitely write a memoir about. I’ve talked about this before in older posts but haven’t recently that I know of. Back in high school, during my junior and senior years, I managed the varsity baseball team.
I knew in my junior year that the team was getting new coaches, so on a whim, I reached out to the head coach (who I will refer to as “Coach”) and said I was interested in being the manager—if he needed one. Without knowing who I was or what I was capable of, he gave me the job. Boy I didn’t know what I was in for—in a good way.
When I first met with Coach during Pitchers and Catchers, he asked me three things: if I had ever managed before (no), if I was academically eligible (I was), and if I was dating anyone on the team (nope). Never did he ask me if I knew how to keep book, but luckily I did. Not only would I keep book, but I became the den mother for the team, meaning I was the keeper of items and supplied snacks.
During my junior year, I knew a handful of the guys on the team, mostly from having gone to elementary school with them or through friends. It was awkward at first, which I expected: I mean, you’re putting a quiet girl in a dusty and loud dugout with a group of teenagers. Over time, we would become a family (at least that’s how I looked at it because I’m sure some of them thought I was annoying), and I wouldn’t have spent my afternoons any other way.
When I went to the first scrimmage, this is how Coach introduced me: “Guys, this is Becky. Be nice to her or else she’ll give you an error if it’s between a hit or an error.”
Well, at least it was true.
They had a rough start to the season, but halfway through, something sparked and I was able to become part of school history when the 2011 baseball team brought home a conference banner for the first time in 40 years.
They quickly became my team of misfits, and I enjoyed every moment. I found a new appreciation for long bus rides, covered dugouts (I even had a ranked system of my favorite dugouts), and being bombarded with questions (a few of the guys would purposely ask me a million questions to try to throw me off, but I never missed a beat). Each player had his own personality, and I was always laughing at their shenanigans.
I was excited to go back for another season, and Coach gladly let me come back for my senior year. We had lost a lot of seniors from the year before, but surprisingly, the 2012 team did pretty well.
Our second game of the season was against our town rival, and it was quite a dramatic game as we won in a walk off. It was a great feeling to watch the boys all tackle each other on the field.
During that season, I learned that no one was going to do pitch count for me with the clicker, pizza Goldfish were the best, and the boys were going to continue to ask me a million questions while Coach continued to be vague with his—”What do we have?” could literally mean anything.
The most memorable game from this season was a 16+ inning game. We had the lead by the end of the game, but other team came back to tie it at 5-5. Extra innings, here we come. Our starter went 7 and another guy was brought in for relief… for 9 innings. The book only goes to 12 innings on a page, so by the 13th inning, I had to start a new page, and by this time, there were so many subs I was pretty much making stuff up when Coach asked me questions. And since high school games go to 7 innings, we played a little more than 2 games in about 5 hours.
The game was called for darkness around 8:00 p.m., and we didn’t get back to school until before 9:00 p.m. It was the longest game I had ever scored, and when we were pulling into the school yard, Coach said to the guys, “Guys, thank Becky for doing the book!” and they all yelled “Thank you!” and cheered. When the other team came to us, we finished up the end of the 16 inning game with a win in the 17th.
Senior Night was bittersweet because it was the first time I’d ever had a Senior Night (since I didn’t play any sports, obviously) but I was glad to be included with all of the guys who were seniors. After that game was called in 5 innings because the other team ran out of players and we were winning 18-0, Coach gave little speeches for each of us. One thing I remembered from mine was, “She asked me last year about becoming a part of the team, and I wasn’t sure, but she knows all of the rules, and this year she’s telling me what to do, just like my wife.”
I made them all cookies and got them seeds for the end of the season, so I liked to think I was their favorite. We made it to States that season again but lost in our first game.
The end of the season banquet was a few weeks later, and it was nice to have the time with the guys, because, in typical fashion, we were picking on each other. Coach gave speeches again: “She was very persistent, and I thought she’d go away. But she didn’t… I can see that she grew up since last year. During her junior year, whenever I’d ask her a question, she’d be like, ‘yes, Coach.’ But now… I get the eye rolling and it’s just like my wife. She’s not doing what she used to before I married her.”
I gave a little speech at the end about my experience and how grateful I was for the team.
The running joke was that I didn’t have a job description, and it was true. Sure, my main job was to keep score of the games, but I did so much more than that. I sat through too many games in the freezing cold. I had random sunburns, and I learned that my forehead burns very easily. I made awkward small talk with the umpires. I ran errands for the umpires (don’t ask). I laced a cleat in the rain using a pen cap. I stood through innings of having sunflower seeds spit at me. I did minor first aid in the dugout. I was responsible for holding onto phones and iPods at away games because I always brought a backpack with me. I dealt with rapid-fire questions: “What’s the score?” “What’s the inning?” “How many outs?” “What’s the pitch count?” “Who’s up next?” and the ever favorite one: “Becky, do you have any food?” It was amazing how much food a group of boys can consume, especially bags of Goldfish.
I really did love those boys, and I told them that. We were a dysfunctional family, and those two seasons were the best parts of my high school career. I still wear my team baseball hoodie and jacket and sweatpants and t-shirts because it was such a large part of my life. It allowed me to embrace my love for baseball with others who love the sport just as much as I do. I saw a different side of baseball: behind-the-scenes. I saw how these boys were so hard on themselves because they wanted to be better, and when they were successful, it was like watching little kids celebrate on the field.
I’m always going to be a part of the baseball family, and although the high school closed in 2016, we all know the history we made and what we were able to accomplish. I am so so so glad, even 10 years later, that I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a chance.