The Pressure and Pleasure of Playing for My Biggest Fan

I would have bet a pretty sizable amount of money that the softball game on Sunday would be rained out. Tanya washed her car on Saturday afternoon, we drove to and from Kaneohe Saturday night in wet weather. We hadn’t seen consistent sun in a while. When I woke up Sunday morning, I expected the official word to come down some time around 9 AM, but it never did. I got dressed, loaded my family and a bunch of stuff into the car, and started driving. My phone rang. C’mon! I thought. It was my dad. He just wanted to know if we were headed over for lunch after the game. Game on, apparently.

Photo Credit: Madison Higa. Never mind it's crooked, let's just be happy it isn't blurry.

Photo Credit: Madison Higa. Never mind it’s crooked, let’s just be happy it isn’t blurry.

Not only did we not get rained out, it was blazing at Halawa. As I stood talking to a friend before our game, I could feel the sun through my high socks. It was that kind of sun. Just before we started warming up and stretching, I asked Madison to take a few pictures of Matty and I. “Sure!” she said, popping out of her chair. She’s getting better.

Now that Matty and I are in our 30’s, we play wherever we are needed. The guys who showed up yesterday necessitated a second baseman and first baseman. Given that, I will always concede second base to Matty. It was a wise choice. In the middle innings, a batter on the other team hit a pop-up over my head at first. I knew I had no chance, so I didn’t even move, but to turn around. Matty came lumbering over from his position, got full horizontal (girlie pop!) and made the catch on a dive. I looked over to Lynnette who had the camera. “Tell me you got that!” I said. Lynnette answered with a frown and a head-shake. Oh, but it was beautiful. The play, I mean.

Next level stretching. You might start seeing stuff like this in your Facebook feeds with headlines like "Physical Trainers Hate Him!" or "Revolutionary Exercise Techniques Using Your Own Kids!"

Next level stretching. You might start seeing stuff like this in your Facebook feeds with headlines like “Physical Trainers Hate Him!” or “Revolutionary Exercise Techniques Using Your Own Kids!”

Sometimes when we drive past Halawa coming down Red Hill, Madison will ask when I am going to play softball again. This happens from the end of one softball season to the start of the next. When we finally got there yesterday, she was so squirmy. Lynnette had made her a sandwich for breakfast, but the minute I sat down on the ground to stretch, I knew what was going to happen. I tucked one leg back to stretch my quad, and felt tiny hands and bony knees on my back. Mad doesn’t really care that I have to stretch before a game, she simply wants to use me a jungle gym.

When Matty and I started throwing, Madison tagged along and got in a few throws. She’s still stepping with her right foot and throwing with her right arm. I tried to correct that yesterday, but whenever I tell her to step with her left foot first, she’ll do it – but there’s a 5-second delay between that step and the actual throw. Some of her throws somehow ended up behind her. My hands are a little small – I have short fingers – for the 14″ ball, so I cut her some slack.

I have the best fans.

I have the best fans.

I hadn’t played a game since early February, and it showed. My swing was terrible. I dropped a throw at first base on the tail end of a double play. It hit the heel of my glove and bricked out. I did everything right: I got to the bag, squared up to second, but then didn’t realize how close 55 feet is when something is hurling a ball at you as hard as they can.

I am positive that it was a combination of boredom and the fatigue Lynnette felt over having to constantly tell Madison “no” that led the Goob to a on the bench during the later innings of our game. She just kind of arrived and said, “I’m going to stay by you, dad.” Of course she climbed the backstop, drank my water, and even lifted my bag off the ground and placed it on the bench so “it wouldn’t get dirty.”

When I got into the batter’s box for my 4th at-bat, she was all over me. “C’mon, Mister 8!” “You can do it!” I took the first pitch for a ball and she cheered even harder. “Jesus Christ, that’s real pressure,” I muttered. The catcher laughed. I sprayed the next pitch over shortstop and turned back toward Mad when reached first. She was screaming and shaking the fence. I gave her the thumbs up. She gave me two back.

When I got back in, she said “Good job, dad!” I looked at her sweaty nose and upper lip, her hair matted to her forehead, and smiled. “Oh, thanks, Goob,” I said. “Woot woot!” she said.

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