Sunday, February 8, 2015


Joe and Grandson Joey at the Tournament 2014

Just after Joe and I started dating, so about a million years ago, we attended our company picnic together.  (Yes, we were an office romance.) 

Joe in 1956
By then, we had shared a few stories from the past so I knew that Joe had been an athlete.  He’d told me about growing up in the Midwest in the 40’s and 50’s, and how he’d spend most of those summers on a ball field.

He explained that his first “real” job, after being discharged from the Army, was with a large company that also had a softball team that competed in a five state regional league.

Joe was proud of the fact that he got paid to be a company employee, but what he really did was play fastpitch softball for them.  In fact, he’d helped the team go all the way to the World Series of Fastpitch.

So on that day at the picnic, as Joe participated in our company’s softball game, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see him round third base and slide into home plate. 

In the process, he shredded a brand new pair of white shorts and got a huge raspberry on one hip.  When I asked him “why” he slid into home, he simply said, “I could have been out.”

That was the first time I understood just how competitive Joe was, and how important sports were to him.

Fast forward to this year—we’re now living in an “Over 55” community  and apparently, there are many other senior guys with Joe’s same love for a ball field because they have created a “very senior” and “very” slow pitch softball league.  (It’s quite the big deal, with a nice field, electronic scoreboard, uniforms, and a schedule printed in the newspaper, the whole megillah.)

Last week, Joe and Al and I went to one of their games.   We sat in the stands and ate popcorn just like at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

As I mentioned, this is a very senior league.  The average age within the community is somewhere around 74.5, and there are guys with all types of physical challenges.  They even have pinch-runners if you can’t make it around the bases.

I sat there and thought Al (this lousy disease) is the only reason that Joe can’t just sign up for a team, and get out there and do something he would totally enjoy.  It’s all Al, nothing else.  I suddenly wished I could push Al off the stands.

Without this disease that is robbing Joe of his mental and emotional flexibility he could take a pitch, run the bases, and field a ball with the best of them.  There would be no stopping him. 

It frustrates me to think about how many things Joe has had to give up.

But then I remember how much Joe enjoyed watching his grandson, Joey, play baseball.  During a trip to Las Vegas this fall, Joe was so proud of Joey when his team won the whole tournament.

Joe got so excited that at one point during the final day of the tournament, our daughter had to remind him that if he didn’t stop chiding the ump, he might be thrown out of the park.  And, there were those little conversations Joe had with the team manager in between games where Joe imparted his vast wisdom. (I’m not sure I want to know exactly what Joe and Al said to the manager.)   It was pure delight for Joe to be there.

I guess that’s what happens in life.  Sooner or later you have to come off the field and sit in the stands and cheer for the generations that come after you.  (I usually don’t like sports analogies, but this one “hit it out of the park”.)

We try not to grieve over the things that are lost, but enjoy what we still have while we still have it.  After all, as long as you can remember even some of what you once did, you can still brag.

Tomorrow is Friday, “TGIF” or “GIFT” if you are dyslexic like me.

By the way, our daughter just called to announce that grandson, Joey, who is still a high school junior, just made his “varsity” baseball team.  Way to go Joey!!  There's that bragging thing.