Engaging with the Real World

Earlier this year I took a vacation from social media and I’ve been feeling the urge to turn off the computer more and get out and about in the real world. As it happens, a few weeks ago Andre Pope decided out of nowhere to assemble a softball team of the Myrtle Beach area geeks. That was well in keeping with the sort of thing I want to do more of, so I joined up. When I went to the first practice, it was my first time wearing a glove or swinging a bat in 18 years.

The last time I played softball was at the 1992 World Fantasy Convention at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA. Baseball fanatic and science fiction writer Rick Wilber put it together, and I happily went out and played with a group of fans and writers that included both Jack and Joe Haldeman, Pati Nagle, Newton Streeter, Richard Gilliam, Alexandra and David Honigsberg and many others. That game was so much fun that a virtual community formed around it for years afterwards with a fake science fictional team called The Double Breasted Fedoras. I still have a jersey hanging in my closet.

When I stood on the field playing catch with the softball, it was a kind of fun I haven’t had in a long time. I surprised myself by dropping fewer flies than I expected, and never once whiffing on a swing. Every time I swung the bat, I connected with the ball. I try specifically to be open out there and I hope over the course of this season to play every position on the field at least once. I’m not very fast so I’m not a shortstop type but I still want to play it at one time or another. Our coaches specifically put our team in the least competitive league available to us. Our goals aren’t to kick ass so much as get off our asses. I aim to do just that.

The Way You Play the Game

I’m not even going to pretend this story didn’t make me cry. At Central Washington University, the women’s softball team was playing Western Oregon. CWU really needed wins to make the NCAA playoffs. When Sara Tucholsky – a career .153 hitter – hit the only home run of her career, she hurt her leg rounding the bases. The umpires said the rules did not allow her teammates to help her around the bases, which would eliminate her home run. Central Washington players determined that nothing in the rules prevented the opponents from helping her, so two players picked up Tucholsky and carried her around the bases, stopping to touch each base with her good leg. This is a team that – if they lost this game by one run and if they lost a bid by one loss – was costing themselves the post-season by this action and they did it anyway. I have to say that makes them the biggest winners possible, regardless of the score of the game or their win-loss record. (They lost 4-2, and thus didn’t make the post-season.)

Thank you, Central Washington University softball team. Thank you, Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace. You made my aching heart feel better.