As I type this from the comfort of the couch, I’ve got some sore legs, a raspberry in my left knee area my arm has a slight soreness, and I can’t stop thinking about last night.
Before I get to the explanation, let me say that I’m writing this post more about me than about Meriden. But it’s still an important one because hundreds of people are involved.
For the last five years, I’ve spent 20-30 week nights per year taking part in the Meriden Amateur Softball Association, better known as MASA. Last night was the first game of my sixth season and the first of the fifth season for CDL Commercial. CDL Commercial is a team sponsored by my dad. For five years he has agreed to sponsor us and it’s been an interesting few years. No, CDL doesn’t stand for Commercial Driving License, by the way. It’s my dad’s business that he started when I was in high school and it stands for College for Daniel and Lauren (my sister). He does property maintenance through the company in addition to his regular day job.
I was asked to join a team when I was 19, I think. Maybe 20. I can barely remember how old I am, so you get the idea. In year 1, we were bad. It was a combination of some of my friends and another group of guys. Midway through that season I dove into first base and broke my hand, ending my season. It hurt, but it was a pain I could live with, but certainly not swing and make solid contact with a softball with. And it was my dominant right hand. The night I got the soft cast put on my hand was the same night I first hung out with my future wife so I guess not all was lost. And the first game she showed up to to watch me was when I broke my hand. So there’s that.
The next year was maybe the most talent we ever had on the team, but we didn’t do well. You’d think hitting a lobbed pitch is simple, but for a handful of former baseball players and other pretty decent athletes, it’s more complicated than you think. And making the right throws and plays isn’t what you’d think either.
The following year we missed the playoffs by one game with a somewhat different group of guys. We lost a few athletes, but gained some guys that were raw but had strength and the ability to field.
Then we came in first place for the regular season two years ago.
That’s us the night we clinched first place. That’s my dad right in the yellow shirt. He’s always been proud of us win or lose and loves hanging out with the guys when he can.
A few weeks later we ended up winning the championship. I don’t remember the first game of our three-game series very well. I remember getting beat good though and then everybody worrying. We figured we were done the second game. People wanted the lineup to change and I thought the negativity would bring the team down.
In game two it was cold, a little rainy and neither team was scoring. Then someone hit a triple, I followed with a single and we broke it open a little. I think we scored 7 runs that game, which is nothing for a softball game. Especially a win.
In game three we came out with the confidence and pounded them, winning by 12 runs and mercying them in five innings. Why I still remember the small details, I’m not sure. But I do. I remember pinch running one player for another. I remember hitting it just passed the shortstop to end the game. I remember people picking me up. And I remember the happiness on everybody’s face. Personally, I have never won a championship of any sort, so, as the coach, it was special. Even if it was the championship for the lowest division, it didn’t matter.
Last year we hit the ground running. Losses were few and far between in a higher division. We finished the regular season 16-4 and then won another championship against the same team from the previous year. And it came in similar fashion with it going the full three games. But we won the championship by just a single run and the final out came on a foul out.
When you’re watching a championship game on TV, you know who won. You have the outs or the score or the time left on the clock right in front of you so you don’t question it. In both years it seemed only one or two of us were positive we had just won the championship. So the celebration is awkward, but then the crowd figures it out and all is good.
We got new shirts last year. And facial hair. Well, not all can grow it well, but some can.
See, after we won the year before, a few guys opted not to shave for the offseason. Or they chose to grow facial hair at least in the beginning of the season.
Now I have limited facial hair growing experience, but my wife talked me into growing a beard. I started about two weeks before the season started and made a commitment that I’d grow it out until we lost. Of course, we went about two months before a loss. The loss was by all of one run. So I kept it going and then it was a while before the next one. So here I am, still with it on my face and several others the same.
I hang onto all of the trophies we have. Downstairs on my shelf we have two of these big ones, two like you see in the picture before this one and then two smaller ones that each individual player received.
When the trophies travel, they do it with protection.
So last night was game one in another new division and we got beat pretty bad. When we get beat, it eats away at us. We typically respond well and will find out tonight because we have a doubleheader.
I’ve run a little lately, but on a night where it was 40-45 degrees and you rely on sudden bursts of speed and only a handful of throws, it can hurt the next day. I slid into second, so that explains my knee. And I just entered the statistics into a database I keep to track stats. Yeah, we take it seriously.
But it’s a great group of guys. We have a ton of fun. They get there early and often stay late. Last year, we stayed at the field in the dark until midnight. I’ll never forget one of them saying that these will end up being some of our best memories. And as for friends, they probably will be. Winning, having fun, just being friends, it’s all great. The year before, I think we were there until midnight. And that game ended at 6:30 p.m., so it was a good time.
But softball gives you something to look forward to and some time with your friends. My kids come to some games and my wife and my family, team members’ families. Getting that support is special and makes you feel good that people could be doing anything that night, but choose to be watching us.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks. I realize it isn’t a Meriden post per se, but hundreds of guys in the area play. It gets intense. It gets competitive. But it’s fun.