Hit by a Pitch
When I was in high school, I was anything but athletic, but since my friends were, I sometimes worked as manager for their teams. This meant doing a lot of score-keeping. We played against quite a few schools in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, but playing softball against Lake Park was awful. It wasn’t awful because they were any better than we were, but because they had a little person on their roster.
Literally. She was a lefty and stood maybe 4’6″ if she was in heels. I think she played catcher, but her real value was at the plate. Being so tiny and a lefty means that her strike zone was almost impossible to hit, and nearly every time she got to the plate, she was either walked to first base or was hit by a pitch.
And we hated it. Hated her, actually. The comments in the dugout were pretty bad. It’s like we blamed her for being little. We blamed her for getting hit. We blamed her for putting on the uniform and walking on the field with her teammates.
We were jerks.
In the years since, I never gave it a lot of thought, until today, when I got hit by another pitch.
See, she likely didn’t join the team so she could walk to first base three or four times a game. She wanted to play. She didn’t put on the uniform so that she could spend a few months dotted with bruises along the right side of her body. She may have been a decent hitter, if she’d gotten decent pitches, but I don’t think I ever saw her bat connect with the ball. What a shame. Yet she still went out there every time like she was going to nail this one.
Today, after weeks of prepping to move to Minnesota, I got a call that I am heading to Iowa instead. In three weeks.
I was assured that it is not because of anything I’ve done, and I’m excited to be heading west to work with people I already know in a place that is promising. There are things I was looking forward to in Minnesota, but there are also things to look forward to in Iowa. Not better or worse, just different. I’m still wrapping my head around it.
The hard part is it still feels a little like rejection. It stings a little, hearing bits of things from up north, probably not unlike the things that poor catcher heard. It feels like getting hit by a pitch before I’m even at the plate (despite being manager, I had my share of hits, too). It’s hard when it feels like I’ve been hit by more than my fair share of pitches. Taking one for the team is part of the game, but 45? That gets old, and score-keeping habits are hard to unlearn. All I want is a chance to put on my uniform like the rest of the team and play ball.
Now don’t get me wrong: the people I’m going to work with in Iowa are good people! They’ve already made me feel welcome! I’m going to get to do new and different things there, and I am really looking forward to it. Honestly.
I also have GREAT friends who know what to say, and I got to talk to people who tether me in when I feel like I just got sent into outer space. It wasn’t a bad day. It wasn’t bad news.
Today, though… today was another day when I feel like I got hit by a curve ball. Another bruise that will be partly healed under my uniform when I step up to the plate in Iowa.