The M Street Softball League begins play on Monday, May 11th @ 6:30....please check the schedule to see when your team plays. The remainder of the schedule will be completed at the end of next week. With the start of the season just a few short days away, our very own Jim "Sully" Sullivan shares his softball passion below. It's a great read for all of you who play softball or any competitive sport for that matter. Although, Sully says he won't be sporting a team uniform this year, you will see plenty of him at the field as he has accepted to be our official scorekeeper. It's great to have you Sully!
MICK JAGGER IS A LIAR
Do you remember the old Rolling Stones song Time is on My Side? Don't pay any attention to that nonsense. Mick Jagger is a liar.
The truth? Time isn't on anyone's side. It chews us up and spits us out without prejudice. No matter who you are, it will catch up to you and administer a beating.
I'm not looking for applause when I relate what follows. If you've seen me play for many seasons, you know the limited talents I've displayed; I'm proud of playing as long as I did, but I know I've never been close to being a "star". My hope is to give some folks the knowledge of where they're headed - and why they should keep at it.
I turned 57on March 2nd of 2014. I decided to ignore all the warnings my body was giving me and I signed on to play in three different leagues. At M Street, with its "open" slinging of that time and a few guys pitching who could bring real heat that I was too old to catch up to, I only played part-time. But in the other two leagues - both of them modified fast-pitch - I caught almost every game for my teams. That meant a doubleheader behind the plate every Sunday and then 2 or 3 other games weeknights. By the time the season was over, I had become about 120 in softball years. My rotator cuff - always painful for the past 10 years or so, and the reason my arm was among the worst in whatever league I played - was utterly destroyed. As a result, I can't throw at all any more. Even a soft overhand toss results in my shoulder feeling like somebody is driving an ice pick into it.
I'm not asking for pity. I knew what was going to be the likely result of all those innings at my age and I went ahead and played them anyway. I decided if I was going to be of value to my teams, I was going to give them what I had left in the tank. As it turned out, I was running on vapors(some of my teammates, like Big Jay Atton, were ready to cap me, like Old Yeller.). But I lasted long enough to make the playoffs in all three leagues and finally won a championship in one of them.
That championship is the important part. I had played baseball and softball since age 7 (that's 51 seasons, for those of you without math skills) and I had never played on a championship squad. Teams I was on had come close many times, but no victory cigars. In some of my younger years, when I could still play every position on the field, I had good statistical seasons and I even have an MVP trophy at home from one league to prove it. But my teams never won the last game of the season.
I also played for, and managed, a big bunch of truly bad teams. Managing guys who show up regularly and try their hardest makes me happy, no matter what the win-loss record. Those years when I had really talented players but they didn't show regularly and sometimes dogged it… that's why I'm bald and what hair I have left is white.
It was always better than NOT being on a ballfield, no matter what happened. That's why I was always the first one to the field 90% of the time. No matter how old I get, standing on dirt and grass in warm sunshine makes it possible for me to be - if only in my mind - 17 or 18 again. Just breathing the air in a ballpark is a fountain of youth for me.
Anyway, I made a conscious decision to wreck my arm last season. Once I was warmed up and adrenalin kicked in - and if I kept my head about me and didn't try to rifle anyone out with the popgun I had to work with -there wasn't any pain I couldn't ignore until I got home. For a solid two months after the season, I couldn't even extend my arm under my pillow when I went to bed. Any sudden unexpected reaching, when I forgot about my shoulder problems, sent fire through it. I can function in everyday life if I exercise some caution; that's no problem. Playing another season at catcher? Out of the question.
Was it worth it? You bet your ass it was. I'd been pursuing that championship for too long. If I had to retire without knowing what it was like to win that final game, I'd be a far unhappier person than I am with an arm that's subject to occasional pains. And that's what I hope you take away from this, if you're a player. I'm not saying you should cripple yourself intentionally or maybe destroy something that's a part of how you make your living. You have to weigh the possible gain against the possible loss. But, if you're like I was - you love the game, the people, the atmosphere, the great feeling of exhaustion when you've truly sweated for 90 minutes or more - then stay at it, as much as possible, while you're still able to do so. Enjoy every minute of it and give what you have to your game. When the day comes where you're unable to play, be satisfied with yourself that you gave it your best shot when you could. If you can truly say that to yourself, you'll be a winner no matter what happened in the final game.
[Jim Sullivan - "Sully", to most at the ballpark - is a freelance writer who has been published in the Boston Herald, Boston Globe, The Patriot Ledger, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Funny Times magazine, the South Boston Tribune, South Boston Today and other places. This year, he is the full-time official scorer for the league and will be in the stands every night. Bring him a roast beef sandwich and make a friend for life!]