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There Is No Joy In Mudville

, , , , , , | Healthy | August 2, 2021

I have been playing baseball since I was about eight years old and this story takes place when I am eleven, in 1991.

There are a couple of league rules for our age group and the most important one is no cleating. For anyone unaware, this means that when you slide into base, you are not allowed to put your foot in the air with the spikes/cleats on the bottom of your shoe into the person guarding the base. You have to keep your feet down when sliding. Anyone that cleats will be kicked out of the game and suspended for other games or kicked from the league, depending on the infraction.

The season has just started, we’re only a few games in, and everyone is having fun. Today is the day my mom is volunteering at the concession stand, so she’s not down by the field watching my game. She can see us playing from where she’s at, but she can’t pay attention to all of the game since she’s helping people. My dad is working; he can’t be at the game at the start and will be around about halfway through.

The game is still pretty early, just starting the third inning. I’m put in to replace the pitcher. I take over the mound and there is a runner on third. The runner is the biggest kid in our league. He’s in sixth grade, but he’s already a good foot taller than most of us and weighs a good sixty pounds more than most of us, too. 

I strike out the first batter I go up against. Two more outs to end this inning.

The next batter hits a pop fly out to shallow right-center field. The outfielder comes in and makes the catch, and the runner on third tags up on the base and starts to run to home plate, but he holds up as the outfielder throws the ball to the catcher. Unfortunately, the throw from the outfielder is wide and the ball goes behind the catcher and rolls to the backstop. My job now is to help cover home plate. The catcher runs back to the ball, turns, and tosses to me. Because the throw to home plate was bad, the runner on third runs home in an attempt to score.

I’m now straddling the side of home plate, waiting for the ball to come to me so I can attempt to tag the runner out. I catch the ball and swing my glove down to make the tag, but the runner slides into home and cleats me. He ends up cleating my left arm, kicking my arm out of the way, and forcing me to drop the ball. At the time, it doesn’t hurt, and I turn around to take a few steps to where the ball landed. I go to scoop the ball off the ground with my glove, and when I try to turn my arm, that’s when the pain strikes me. I drop to the ground in agony, clenching my left arm.

One of the other parents runs up to the concession stand and gets my mom. She comes over with a bag of ice and we end up leaving for the ER to get x-rays.

About thirty minutes after my mom and I leave, my dad shows up and he sits in the bleachers and starts watching the game. After about fifteen minutes, he notices that he doesn’t see me on the field and asks one of the moms sitting near him where I am. The lady tells him what happened and that I left to go to the ER.

My dad looks at the lady, with a deadpan face, and asks, “Did he make the out?”

The lady is so upset with my dad’s lack of concern — because she doesn’t understand that he’s joking — that she punches him in the arm, actually leaving a bruise, and tells him he should be ashamed of himself. My dad tries to tell her he was joking, but she wants nothing more to do with him.

The kid that cleated me broke my arm, and he is never kicked out of the game or suspended for cleating. In fact, he never receives any kind of disciplinary action against him… probably because he is the kid of one of the coaches. The kid develops a bad habit of cleating others until someone gets tired of it and cleats the kid back.

X-rays show a fractured ulna, and because some strain is put on the ulna when you twist your forearm, I can’t just have a short cast put on. I have to have a full arm cast — from my hand to my bicep — for six weeks.

I spend the summer being unable to do most things — playing ball, hitting up the pool with friends, and wrestling. The upside is that my mom feels so bad for me that she takes my younger brother and me to an amusement park. I can ride some of the roller coasters, and as we stand in line for a ride, one of the employees sees me and asks why I am waiting in line and not using the accessible entrance. He says I should be using that entrance and gives us a pass to use them. We get to bypass the long lines and I have a blast that day.

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