The Wild Card: Your short playing career

I know the feeling, kid. - Drew Hallowell

We recount experiences in Little League. Then cry. Then hit the bottle.

I'm guessing that a good percentage of people who regularly visit, read, and comment on this site at one point or another in their lives played Baseball on some competitive level. It could have ranged from years in little league to playing on your High School varsity team. Who knows, maybe a few of you actually broke into a college roster. Maybe you're actually a Major League Baseball player browsing here incognito. The point is, there's a good chance if you're reading this you played baseball at some point. And it was probably harrowing.

Or, at least it was for me. I've never been a too physically gifted person. I'm kind of tall in the sense that being six-foot is tall. However, when I played Baseball I was not that tall yet. I played at various levels of Frontier Little League in Tucson for four years. I played one year at the "Pre-Minors" level, which involved coaches pitching, two years at the "Minors" level, which was the players pitching, and one year at the "Majors" level. There were levels beyond that, but they were for people with aspirations of playing in High School and on touring AAU teams, which was not really my scene.

I was a standard "All Glove, No Bat" type player, especially when I got to the highest level. I was always relegated to the outfield, despite the fact that my arm was and still kind of is only slightly stronger than that of Raul Ibanez. Why was I in this purgatory that nobody ever hit to because kids? Because unlike most other kids, I had the ability to catch what was thrown/hit to me a good portion of the time.

My most vivid Little League memory was this: It was my second year in the "Minors" level. I was playing for the "Diamondbacks" against the "Rockies" (since officially licensed teams made it hip, I guess) and it was a Semi-Final game. It was the bottom of an extra-inning of some sort. I lead off the inning, and in a moment of nut-finding by a blind squirrel, I was able to get a double by hitting it down the opposite field line. That was exciting! The next batter walked, and I wasn't thinking straight and I took the next base. The team threw down to third and I was called out, because I wasn't thinking. Also thinking back to that, I'm 75% sure I was safe, and I was just called out for daring to do such a thing.

I mean it wasn't like I was the winning run or any-... ah crap. Though I suppose it was fitting that I was on the Diamondbacks and making a bad baserunning mistake.

We ended up losing. I was kind of sad for a bit. My dad yelled at the dad who's kid struck out to end the game for us. Good times.

I hadn't really played competitive Baseball up until four years ago, when I joined the Arizona Territories Vintage Baseball League, which I've documented much about on this website before. I've morphed into a dead-pull hitter somewhere. I think that aforementioned double was the last time I ever hit it the opposite way. I've had fun doing it, and if you're interested, you should check out the website and find a team to join. DO IT.

What are your competitive Baseball memories/experiences? Did you play in Little League? Do you now play in one of those Softball leagues where you have to chug a beer every base you advance? Tell your stories in the comments!

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