My shoulder and the arm that was somewhat attached to it gave out in my 50s after serving me well in work and recreation (hockey, broomball, baseball, skiing and curling), but I had accumulated a few too many boo-boos a few too many times and the writing was painfully on the wall.
As a result of having an athletic lifestyle, I retired from beer league baseball during spring training in 2004 after making a magnificent catch in deep left field and then quickly and accurately throwing the ball to my cut-off man/girl. Sadly, I also threw my entire arm and shoulder along with the ball and had to ask the shortstop to throw my arm back.
I hung up my glove that day moving to a coaching position only. First base coaching allowed me to be involved in the game and still be able to sip a beer without the umpire enforcing the no drinking in the field rule.
My Mom was a good ball player, although I never saw her actually play on a team other than scrub. When it came to the skills, you could tell she had played some good ball. With six ball-playing kids, her opportunities for coaching and umpiring were numerous. One year she coached three teams because no one else could or would. It is a good thing we lived across the street from the community hall and fields.
That love of the game was instilled in all six of us. We played on a family slo-pitch team, The Bushwackers, for almost 12 years. We were pretty good and won a few league titles but never did any better than second in the provincials…always a bridesmaid…
When a new boyfriend or girlfriend was introduced to the family there was an intense interview quiz that would go like this, “Can you play baseball?...What is your batting average?...What kind of beer do you drink?...and finally, Do you play hockey?” The family may have lucked-out because all my brothers and sisters in-laws passed the interview, with the one exception being my brother-in-law from Saskatchewan. His modest hockey skills were easily substituted for his fine curling skills.
My beautiful bride passed the in-law interview and became the backbone of our pitching staff. When she had to retire, her arms and shoulders were just fine but her attractive knees became wobblier and wobblier even with expensive athletic braces.
I experienced the reverse, with my shoulders and arms being afflicted with a few “itis-es,” bursitis and arthritis, but my knees not only look great but still perform with no pain in hockey. I can exercise and warm up my arm but I am unable to throw anything more than a fit.
It has been quite a while since I threw my arm from left field to the cut-off. Even though I still dig our gloves out each spring and give them the old Mink Oil treatment they are both rarely used.
I get the itch every spring and actually entertain the thought of playing underhanded, until I try to throw underhanded and realize that instead of one cut-off man to throw to…I might need two or three.
Game on, as a fan…sigh!