Linda Stamper Boyne: America’s pastime’s a hit
Vail, CO, Colorado
Nothing says summer like a good ol’ game of baseball.
It takes me back to the cool Oregon Coast summer days of my childhood, playing with the neighborhood kids at the intersection of Osprey Lane and Alder Court, the ball getting lost in the trees every time someone hit a pop fly.
There’s something to be said for being able to feel like a kid again, all these years later, which is exactly what I’m doing every Friday evening this summer, playing on the company softball team.
It’s been an interesting experiment, uh, I mean experience. That teamwork we utilize at work extends to the field, but the dynamic is different. The embarrassment of losing together week after week is a real bonding experience.
And not just losing. We really give trouncing a new spin. Each week we have scores like 26 to 9 on the scoreboard at the end of the game. We’ve taken a photo of each scoreboard to make a collage of “glory” at the end of the season. We are truly a study in great camaraderie.
It’s not like we are completely without talent. We have some gifted players on the team. It’s just that the talent doesn’t run deep and they can’t carry the whole team, try as they might. We are respectable when we’re up to bat, but our fielding skills are a little thin.
And while our team is light on skill, we make up for it with a good attitude and enthusiasm. The celebration each time we make an out is such that you’d think we just won the World Series.
Truth be told, I’m among the not-so-talented players. I really hate admitting that. I can hit and I can throw with some level of coordination, but the catching? Not so much. After two games of playing in the infield and walking away with bruised shins from the ball making a distinct thonk against the bone, I moved to the outfield, mistakenly thinking it would be safer. Physically, yes, but emotionally it’s much more painful as I miss ball after ball, misjudging the trajectory of the ones that are knocked out there.
In our defense, many of my teammates had never played softball before, including our resident Aussie. We had to tell her on her first time up to bat that it was like a wicket in the air, likening it to cricket, the closest sport from her native Australia.
She got a base hit and almost made it home, tagged out just steps away. She was all in after the first game. That night she texted me: “That was some good, clean American fun! I’m on a softball high!”
There are some darn good teams in our league. It may be known as the Co-ed Beer League, but the beer clearly isn’t dulling their skills. But I think a few of the players are taking it all a bit too seriously. It’s a GAME, people. And we’re not professional athletes. Please don’t take out your frustration of no longer being the high school baseball star on us. We’re just out there having fun.
Some teams take pity upon us and start playing lefty or “accidentally” fumbling the ball in the infield to let us score. One team even let us get into double digits. That was exciting! God bless the bankers. Thank you kind souls. Just getting a few people across home plate did so much for our morale.
We’ve embraced the fact that we are the worst team in the league. We’ve even come up with a few mottos, the company name changed for the sake of our corporate reputation, of course. “ABC Inc. — we’re not THAT bad.” “ABC Inc. — it’s good practice.”
For me, I’m not out there for the love of the game. I really couldn’t care less about softball. I just enjoy being out on the field and in the dugout with my coworkers.
I am blessed to work with a group of people I actually like and getting to know them outside the confines of the roles we play at work has been enlightening. You really get to see people’s true colors.
Now let’s all line up, high five and congratulate each other on a game well played.
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org