The ol’ column has been filled with some pretty heavy topics these last few weeks, so I think its time to mix in a changeup and lighten things up a bit.
When I was in the second grade I suffered the biggest injury in my life up to that point. Previously I fought through having a couple stitches in my forehead as a toddler and sent the chickenpox packing as a first-grader, but this next one was a doozy. Near the end of my second grade year, my sister and I had moved our trampoline under our basketball goal at home. We were not lucky enough to receive the height genes in our family, so this was pretty well our only opportunity in life to know what it felt like to dunk a basketball.
There we were, having a good time when one of our balls caromed away from the bouncy ring of death. I hopped down to retrieve it, but my foot got caught on the outer metal rim that holds the springs in place and body met ground very quickly. I with my fantastic reflexes got one arm under my body first and — CRACK. I ran toward the house to get my parents while my sister was in the background screaming, which I guess was her way of helping? My parents zipped me on over to Milledgeville from the booming metropolis of Devereux for x-rays that revealed a clean break of both the bones in my right arm. I walked out of the doctor’s office sporting a brand new Georgia Bulldogs cast.
Side story: the sling the doctor gave me just wouldn’t do, so my incredible mom used her sewing talents to craft me my own sling using fabric with different NFL team logos on it. My mother, who is also a bit of a hoarder, still has that fabric nearly a quarter of a century later, so now I have my very own mask with that same pattern to wear when I go out in public to protect myself from COVID-19.
Now for most kids nearing the end of second grade a broken right arm would be fantastic news. “Mrs. Rachels, I can’t hold a pencil while I have this cast, so I guess I can’t do any schoolwork,” is how it should’ve gone. I have long had this affliction though that makes it difficult for me to choose sides, and I must have had it in some form back then too. To this day I write with my left hand and throw, kick, and shoot basketball with my right. I had gotten the worst of both worlds. Not only did I not have a good excuse to get out of my spelling tests and math worksheets, but I was effectively useless when it came to athletics outside of kickball. Rec baseball season was right around the corner and I was getting ready to play my first year as a member of the Dodgers here in Baldwin County. You’ve heard of a pitching machine? Well I was a catching machine. It was literally the only thing I could do on the diamond for a good chunk of that season. I’d “throw” with a teammate before practice by catching the ball and rolling it out of my glove back to them. I’m not really sure why anyone wanted me for a partner.
Looking back, maybe that first season of one-armed organized ball is what soured my relationship with playing the game. I played rec ball all the way through middle school, but as I entered high school I chose a different path that took me out onto the tennis court. Balls for both sports are about the same size, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to hit with a tennis racket than it is a baseball bat.
Maybe starting baseball with a broken arm put me behind my peers, and maybe that’s why today I am writing this column instead of standing as a member of the MLB Players Association who should be playing games right now if not for baseball’s greedy owners. Maybe, but probably not.