It was a cool, bright, morning. The Goodyear Blimp was flying overhead making its way toward the Waste Management Open Golf Tournament in Phoenix. Little did the pilot know that another monumental sports feat was about to happen at the Valle de Oro ball field in East Mesa, Arizona.
On February 26, 2010, Sally Marks, at the ripe ole age of 55, hit her first home run for the Stingers. I had just posted a blog the day before, so my loyal readers will have to wait a few days to learn about this feat. However, all my close friends and family were told as quickly as I could get the word out. In fact if I had the money to have the blimp fly a banner behind it to celebrate the occasion, I certainly would have done so.
Hitting a home run in softball has been on my Bucket List of things I wanted to do before I die, for many years. I’ve been playing senior women’s softball for five years, and the closest I’ve come to a homer was when I hit two triples in one game, four years ago. I played ball when I was in junior high and high school, and I never hit a home run in the six years I played. In fact, I don’t even think I hit a homer when I played in the front yard with my brother and neighborhood chums. But, let’s get this story back to the current century.
Lately, I have had poopy little hits that never see the green grass of the outfield. In fact, I have not hit anything better than a single all season long. But today was different.
I began my day much as I have in other games. I hit a ground ball to short stop – twice. Once I beat it out for a single, the other time they nailed me. However, when I went up to bat the next time, I recalled a dream I had the night before. I can’t remember the details, but the crux of it was to use anger as fuel to hit the ball. Since I’m a pretty good-natured person, this isn’t always easy for me. But this time I decided to put my nocturnal messages to good use.
There were two outs and no one on base. I stood at the plate and thought of a scenario that made me angry – real angry. As I waited for the right pitch, I growled under my breath. I am not sure if the catcher or umpire could hear me, but I did this loud enough that I could hear myself. I swung hard and connected with the ball. It sailed into center field. I ran hard to first base. The fielder missed the ball and it rolled past her. I had to keep going. I rounded second and Shirley, the third base coach, motioned for me to keep going. I ran toward her, fully expecting her to have me stop with a triple. But she didn’t. She waved for me to keep going. Not one to argue, I picked up the pace and crossed the plate with time to spare.
Everyone on the team came out to congratulate me. I jumped up and down with delight. Everyone joked that the Goodyear Blimp was there to witness this historical occasion. My homer sparked a two-out rally and more runs were scored, although I can’t tell you how many. The next time I was up to bat, I saw something I had never witnessed before. The fielders saw me and backed up a few feet. I was in heaven. I hit another good hit, as did several of our players. We played our best game ever and won 15-0.
Ironically, two days ago in our game before the tournament, the Stingers were stinkers. We couldn’t hit, we bobbled the ball and made errors that looked like they came straight out of a Three Stooges movie. But, just as in life, we put it behind us and moved forward.
After our first victory in the tournament, we played a second game against our arch rivals, The Desert Stars. We won again! That puts us 2 and 0 for the tournament. If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, we will be at it again. We just might win our first tournament.
Okay, you may ask. What is the morale of this story?
I thought about writing about using anger in a positive way. I also thought about a little ditty on friendship or the power of perseverance. Any of these topics would work. But somehow I don’t want to elaborate on that.
I just want to tell everyone that I hit a home run today and I’m one happy ball player. It may have taken five and a half decades, but I did it. And I just wanted to celebrate this moment with all of you. And also to let you know that it is never too late to achieve your dreams. So never, ever, pull yourself out of the game. Hang in there and keep on swinging – no matter what.