You always remember your first- first dog, first kiss, first time your friends watched you drink 9 shots of vodka sophomore year and then dumped your lifeless body in your parents’ front yard. For me, though, my most vivid memory of my youth is the first time I got absolutely rocked in little league.
Let me set the stage: I was 10 years old playing YMCA ball in southern Dallas County. I was a late addition to the league, so naturally I ended up on the most hilariously awful team, The Mavericks. The fucking Mavericks. You have to understand, this was the early nineties, pre-Mark Cuban and Dirk, and the hometown Dallas Mavericks were a joke of a franchise that was getting their ass handed to them on the reg. We had no chance. We may as well have suited up wearing ball caps with poo smeared across the brim.
Being 10, I had very little appreciation for winning or losing. With my expectations utterly indifferent, I showed up for our first game, having attended approximately zero practices, and was immediately introduced to the team. Great start. “Hey boys, here’s some scrawny little Macaulay Culkin looking mother fucker. He’s throwing today for some reason.” Baptism by fire.
I’d played ball before that year, but that was machine pitch. Kid pitch was obviously an entirely different animal, mainly because you no longer had a fucking MACHINE pitching. And did I mention I had approximately zero starts to my name? The closest I had ever come a little league start was tossing the ball around with my old man while pretending to be Steve Buechele in my backyard. Steve played third base, so that should tell you how interested I was in taking the mound.
To this day, I have no clue how I got penciled in for the start. But I was a team player, a real company man, so I went with it. Little did I know, I was walking onto a pitching staff that had less depth than Keanu in The Matrix, or any movie he’s ever done, really. I was accurate, and even if I wasn’t going to blow anybody away with my heat, I could still mix it up enough to keep them guessing. LOL @ me.
So there I was at Kiest Park with my Steve Avery (former Braves great) Rawlings glove and what I would later find out was a huge bag of nothing. One of the dads helping coach the team brought me over to the side of the field to help me warm up and get my mind right before the game.
“Alright, 2 fingers means curve ball, and 1 finger means fast ball” he said with a completely straight face. It was as if he had no clue he was talking to a fucking 10-year-old. Did he think my 90 lb. ass would be out there making knees buckle? Get real. I was just trying to get it over the plate, not light up the radar gun. By the time I hit the mound, this guy had completely pile driven any confidence I had through a wood table.
Our opponent that day was the Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, otherwise known as OCBF. I’ll spare you the details, but they were really good. Men amongst boys. I’m fairly certain there were dudes at least 4 years older than me on that team, but it really didn’t matter. When the first batter stepped in the box, I took a long, deep breath and stared down at my catcher who I’d said all of 2 words to in my life.
In my mind, my objective was just to get it over the plate. I didn’t wanna be the kid that couldn’t control his stuff, so if I could just pitch to contact, my defense would take care of the rest. That’s not what happened, though. My first pitch landed in the catcher’s mitt without a swing from the batter. He was feeling me out. Second pitch landed in the dirt about 2 feet in front of home plate. I’m still not sure what happened there. Looking to brush that off, I decided to really reach back and gun one in there.
Double into the gap. Tough start. Brush it off. Get the next guy.
An absolute laser over the shortstop’s head. One run home, runner on second. Okay. We’ll get it back.
Between the first baseman’s legs. Way to stay down, dumb ass. One run home. We’re still in this.
I watched and laughed inside as a very well struck triple sailed over my head. It also sailed over our center fielder’s head who was playing waaaaaay up in shallow center for some inexplicable reason. Should’ve seen it coming.
“Calm down and have fun.”
Thanks, Coach, for the priceless advice, and also for setting me up for massive failure. Next batter.
The next kid to rock my shit walked into the box laughing, which was just a bit insulting. Turns out he was right to laugh because he piped one into left, scoring the runner at third. Fuck me.
Crack, ping, pow, and bang became a theme for my one inning of work. I gave up 9 runs, although I have to believe only 6 of them were earned. It was 5-0 before I got my first out, and I’m pretty sure that only happened because one of their guys slid into home and it was a no sliding league. Yes, there were “no slide” rules. Whatever, I needed all the help I could get.
I should note that my infield was utterly incompetent and completely botched a routine 6-4-3 double play. And guess who didn’t give up any dingers? This guy. Those dudes had warning track power at best.
We lost 11-2. I took the L. OCBF took my dignity..
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