I’m giving up softball…

For the past, oh, nine years (and three years before my time in Arizona), I’ve played on a city-league softball team. The team formed when I was in grad school, and was comprised of a bunch of English grad students. We may not have fielded the best teams, but we had the most clever team names (“Fielder’s Indifference” was a personal favorite).  Don’t get me wrong, we were competitive in our Thursday night D league, but I played because I liked hanging out with those guys.  After games we’d sit around drinking Miller Lite in the parking lot, talking about literature and dissertations and profs until the lights at the park were turned off.  Yeah, we were geeks.

Of course, being a team of grad students we lost members regularly to scheduling conflicts and graduation.  I left for Arizona with my wife where we stayed for two years, and when I came back to College Station I found the team still active, but with a completely new set of faces, minus two or three guys who were still working on their PhD s.  Still, I kept playing, fall, spring and summer.  I’ve played every position regularly except first base and catcher, mostly without incident.  I did, however,  manage to break my nose six years ago playing third base when a grounder took a bad bounce, leading to a trip to the emergency room.  My wife was non-plussed.

For the past three years I’ve been the pitcher for the teams (we also have  a co-ed team), but now the team is not an English department team; in fact there are only three guys who have ties to the department.  But that’s not the reason I’m hanging up my cleats.  This past fall wore on me.  I’ve been team manager for the past couple of seasons, and between getting money from the team members (some of whom I didn’t know before they stepped onto the field for the first game) and trying to make sure we had enough guys each week, which has been a real chore for the past two seasons, softball has ceased being fun and been more of a hassle.  And maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve been the “old man” on the team for the past five years, but the “jerk” factor on opposing teams has ballooned considerably.  Most teams we’ve been playing against these past couple of seasons have been mouthy bastards, it seems.

While still competitive, we haven’t really been a team so much as a collection of individuals for which Thursday night softball is convenient.  Many of the players go their separate ways after the games and while there’s still drinking in the parking lot, it’s a small, irregular group, and I’m only able to stay occasionally.  Wives, kids, and jobs take precedence among us.  There are a couple guys I’ll miss seeing on Thursday nights, though outside of softball I don’t see anyone on the team regularly. But I don’t know that I’m going to miss the game all that much.

And that’s the best reason I can give for my retirement from softball.

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