Thursday, May 26, 2011

As American as apple pie

You may have seen mention of a softball tournament last weekend.  It was made in passing fashion as there were big events that over shadowed the euphoria of the games quickly after.  Now is the moment to return to the warm evening glow of the games.

Last year this same tournament was at the end of April.  I'd been here four months and I was working in an EF (English First school) surrounded on ninety-nine of one hundred sides by Brits.  By happenstance I found out Friday night that there was a men's slow pitch softball tournament that had started that very day and ran through Sunday.  I was ecstatic.  I don't think I even asked anyone else.  Saturday, after teaching from 9:00-14:00, I raced home, grabbed a bag, changed clothes and headed to the fields where I spent the better part of the next thirty-six hours.

This year I thought I'd missed the tourney.  It was already well into May.  Then I got a facebook message from Mel, one of the guys I'd met and hung out with a bit the previous year.  We'd exchanged a few "how have you been"s online over the year and he was giving me a heads up that he was in town for the games.  YIPEEEEE!!  I think my heart did a little flip.  Whatever plans I'd had were scrapped and the new plan was softball.
This is Mel.
On Friday I left work early and made my way to the fields by 3:30.  It rained absolute cats and dogs on my way there.  By the time I arrived the fields were under several inches of water.  A bit of time and a crew with sponges and buckets took care of the problem and by six o'clock we were underway.  I was greeted quickly after my arrival by not just Mel, but Jeff, Byron and a few other guys I'd met last year.  We sat around shooting the sh*t, drinking beer and whiling away the time until the next game.  I spent nearly seven hours at the fields last Friday in a sea of Americana.  There was beer and hot dogs, midwest accents, sunflower seeds and the most beautiful green grass. I was sometimes surrounded by guys and some of their girlfriends (yes, all Asian).  Other times I sat alone.  Either way, I was a happy camper. Some games were good contests between well matched teams. Others were blow outs where fifteen runs were scored in the first inning. I cheered the guys I knew and lamented the loses or injuries with them.

Mel's team, the Guzzlers.
On Saturday I had what was possibly a bigger thrill.  My friends wanted to come see the games with me.  The group in a was an American with ten years in Indo under her belt, a Texan with her two kids, an Red Sox fan from Russia, a baseball clueless Kiwi, a football loving Brit and a big, bald Scotsman.  Look at the crowd I drew for a faux baseball game.  Baseball is the game that Europeans (heck, most non-Americans) don't get.  It's long, it's boring, nothing happens.  Blah, blah, blah.  It's pure Americana.  Our history and heritage involving baseball is long and storied.  It's unique to us. 
Courtesy of
Those who know me probably know that starting about March each year the word "Baseball" and more importantly "Mariners" starts creeping back into my vernacular.  When the regular season starts in April, I'm ready for the season.  I know the players, managerial changes, injury statuses, etc.  I've been told I went to my first game in a baby carrier long before I could walk.  Baseball is a constant for me.  Across the countries and the miles, I can track my team online.  As soon as I've confirmed my tickets home, Mom buys tickets (provided it's in season).  Mariners fans are particularly long suffering and this year is no exception. The team has had both six-game winning and six-game losing streaks.  Either way, I'm with them until September, if not October.
It was a real joy for me to have friends interested in seeing the game.  Many of the Non-Americans asked questions about what was happening.  They wanted to know how the game was played.  How does a team score a run?  Why do they change from offense to defense? I was more than happy to explain and answer everything. Inevitably their interest waned before mine.  And yet most of the group didn't leave until seven or so; all of us staying between four and seven and a half hours. Just thinking about the softball games, and the experience of sharing it with other in a land where I thought baseball was as foreign as I am, brings a huge grin to my face.

A last surprise is that one of my bosses plays on a team that was in the tournament last year and this year, though he didn't play.  He said that I should play.  I didn't see any women playing in the tourney, but I'd love to practice with them if nothing else.  They are on summer hiatus right now but he said to think about it and he'd let me know when practices restart in September. SQUEEEEEAAALLLL!!

1 comment:

  1. Hope springs eternal every April. Were you singing Centerfield?