“When they start the game, they don’t yell, ‘work ball.’ They say, ‘play ball.’”
Willie Stargell, 1981
And play they did.
“The Big Red Machine” rolled out to Idle Hour Park the other night for a softball battle with the mighty Braves. The Reds and the Braves are part of the 11-and-12-year-old girls’ softball league, and it was a heck of a game.
The Reds were led by pitcher Elizabeth Medley, and the Braves by pitcher Anne Tayler Redmon.
The game ended up in a pitching and defensive duel. It must have looked like the field was nothing but one big glove from the batter’s box. No matter where the ball was hit, you had better be running your heart out for first, because if you weren’t, then you’d be out.
If you popped the ball in the air, even way out into the outfield, then there would still be someone there to catch it. There were few errors, and it was a delight to watch as both teams stayed neck-in-neck, inning after inning.
Humphrey Bogart once said, “That’s baseball, and it’s my game. Ya’ know, you take your worries to the game, and you leave ‘em there. You yell like crazy for your guys. It’s good for your lungs, gives you a lift, and nobody calls the cops.”
Most people must agree with old Bogart because Idle Hour Park is packed with cars night after night during ball season.
It’s so fun to sit in the bleachers on a lazy summer evening and talk with the other parents while you watch the kids running the bases. You can eat a hotdog and drink a coke from the concession stand, and it seems better than a steak dinner at the Ritz.
I don’t know how many times I’ve gone to the park upset over something, only to totally forget it for a few hours during the excitement of Little League Baseball. If the drug companies could bottle that feeling, then they would make a fortune.
The kids may not know all the rules, and at times seem puzzled over what to do, but that’s just part of the fun. You can watch them grow from the first game to the very last, where they don’t seem to be the same players you started with.
More importantly, they learn how to cooperate and interact with others. There’s not much room for individuality in these games. Each player has to work for the common good. You either win or lose together, and they seem to have so much fun doing it. We sure could use that sort of spirit among our own political leaders today, couldn’t we?
Well, the Reds and Braves showed us their spirit last Friday in their head-to-head battle.
Anne Tayler would spend an inning firing balls across the plate, and then Elizabeth would respond in kind.
The Reds’ Mary Beth Begley (my niece) playing at first base seemed to get most of the outs as the other players sent those balls pounded out to them flying into first from all over the field.
The Braves would then respond in kind.
Their center fielder, Emma Phelps, #33, and shortstop Hayley Graves #7, kept giving the Reds fits by snagging ball after ball for outs. Haley Graves in particular was awesome as shortstop. It’s rare that I’ve seen a player so good at her position.
The game was tied in the sixth inning until the Reds’ Vanessa Mejia saved the day and brought in the winning run. That young lady can flat run and slide into base like crazy. She’ll be playing WCHS softball one day for sure.
The game ended with a Reds’ victory in a 6-5 nail biter. The Red’s are now 5-1 for the season.
Congratulations to Elizabeth Medley, Teresa Fenwick, Hayley Smith, Mary Beth Begley, Jenny Begley, Lindsey Cermola, Venessa Mejia, Trinity Baker, Madison Hilton, Kate Moore, Andrea Clements, and Emily Hall of the Reds for their great victory over a great opponent.
As a side note, I hope that Trinity Baker got to “eat Mexican” after the game. She was bargaining hard for this from her parents in exchange for a hit as she was getting ready to go up to bat. She got the hit. Trinity sounds so much like the baseball player “Peppermint Patty” of the Charlie Brown “Peanuts” comic strip series that I do a double-take every time I see her. She’s one lovable kid, like all the rest.