Today was tournament day. But it started with an engagement! If you remember, I said that there were 4 women players in camp with the 108 guys. All but one are veterans, but there is one rookie named Danielle. Because there are so few women, everybody knows their names. They don't get any special treatment from pitchers though. All the pitchers are trying to throw their best stuff for every batter, no exceptions. They are really gamers, they run hard, they swing for hits and they chase down fly balls. They also have to take quite a bit of crap from the other campers and they tend to dish it right back. Danielle's day started well. Before the first game at 10:00am this morning on the main Stadium Pitcher's mound, her boyfriend proposed. Her mom had come into town for the event, but it was a surprise to her. She said "Yes" to cheering players on both sides and a few fans in the stands as well.
We didn't have top seed in the tournament, but we were close. We played a team that we should have beaten, but we didn't. Let's see if I can use proper baseball speak here; our bats were stupid. I think that means that we hit the ball well, but right to where the defense was. Smart bats hit the ball to where the defense isn't.
We took our first loss in stride and headed back to an afternoon game that didn't mean anything. In a tournament this short, there is no clawing your way back from the losers bracket. You lose one, you are out of the running. The good news is that we just got to have fun. Nobody was worried about mistakes. We used a few pitchers who hadn't had a chance to pitch and people moved around positions.
I was playing second base and the batter hit an hard line drive up and to my right. I don't know how long it takes for a baseball to travel from home to my position on the field, but it isn't enough time to think or make decisions. You just react. I turned to my right, jumped up and to the right and put my glove in the right place. I wasn't even sure the ball was in my glove until I landed and reached in to check. There were high fives and kudos all around when I came into the dugout. That was cool.
Then disaster struck. It was in the 6th inning and one of our players hit a fly ball to short right field where Danielle was playing. It was about 4:00pm and the sun was a bear for anyone on that side of the field. She shielded her eyes, got under the ball, but it tipped off of her glove and hit her square in the mouth. The ball was on the ground, but her teammates could have cared less. All 8 players on the field and the entire dugout emptied as they formed a circle around her in the outfield. Each field has a trainer present at all times, and he was next one out.
Her two top and two bottom teeth were on the grass and the ones to the sides were damaged. The trainer didn't want to move anyone who had that severe of a blow to her head, so she sat with her teammates and the trainer until the ambulance arrived.
It could have happened to anyone. Nobody felt like playing baseball anymore, so as the ambulance drove off we all retired to the clubhouse for the day. The news travelled like wild-fire and put a damper on the rest of the campers as the other games wound down.
I rode back to the clubhouse with Bill Laskey, the camp director for the past 15(?) years. He said that over the years they have had broken ankles, broken ribs with punctured lungs, broken collar bones, blown knees and plenty of sprains and pulls. But he had never had a ball hit someone in the mouth.
I have a little experience with this because of Kyle. I don't know exactly what Kevin and Kyle were doing, but I know that Kevin was mad at Kyle and Kyle knew it. Anyway, Kevin picked up something pink and threw it at Kyle who ducked and hit his teeth solidly on the bathroom countertop breaking off his two top teeth.
Kyle came barreling down the stairs with his hand covering his mouth and said "Dad, I hit my mouth", took his hand away and he was holding his two front teeth. It was an awful thing to see. My first thought was, "I don't think they can fix this". I was wrong. Although he had to go through a few periods of looking like a boxer, eventually he had custom made teeth to replace the two he snapped off. He has a beautiful smile today.
It turns out that all Kevin threw was a little cloth figure that couldn't have hurt a flea. He felt pretty bad about it.
This wasn't the only strange thing that happened that day. Pamela wrote all the unusual occurrences down on a little note that was on our refrigerator for a long time. Here are the strange things that happened on that day in April.
* Kyle broke off his two front teeth trying to avoid being hurt by a pink piece of cloth. * It hailed. Not small hail, but big, huge hail that covered the deck and made you want to avoid getting hit by it. * We had a small earthquake; one that we all felt. * My dad broke three rotor tillers in the yard. Not small breakage, but big things like shafts and tines. * Baby Kyle (Stuart and Natalie's son) was born
Just like all of us remember what happened on that day because of Kyle and his teeth, Danielle will also never forget February 1 because she got engaged before game 1 and got hit in the mouth by a baseball in game 2.
I'm just guessing, but I think that's pretty rare!