I survived! All my worries about pulled muscles and my anxiety about my baseball skills are behind me. Other than some of the sorest quads in the world, I'm still in one piece. Today was our last game: an abbreviated 5 inning game. In the top of the first inning I played right field. I realized, shortly after taking the field, that I was standing on the same field, in the same place as Danielle was yesterday when she was hit in the mouth. And wouldn't you know it, the first batter hits a shallow pop fly to virtually the same spot. All I was thinking about was, "Don't let it hit you in the mouth". Luckily, I didn't have any sun to contend with, so all went well.
Danielle did show up at the awards ceremony after the game. She had been through a few hours of surgery to fix her teeth and her fractured lower jaw. She held ice up to her mouth the whole time, but did get a standing ovation from the crowd as she took the field to get her "Trainer's Award". She lost two teeth completely and she'll have to drink through a straw for 4 weeks, but she seemed in good spirits (maybe that was the pain medication).
Our shortstop, Jim Fish, got the camp MVP. He ended up going 11 for 13 at the plate. He had 5 triples, and 2 doubles in that mix. He made no errors in the field and was an exemplary teammate. It was good to see him rewarded for his efforts. I'll say it again, if you are the superstar on a team, be a great teammate. Encourage others and pick them up when they make a mistake. Everybody will love you and your team will be better because of you. The prima donna superstar who gets down on other players and spends a lot of time angry on the field should be fired.
I spent a lot of time this week asking people why they had come to the camp. Among the rookies, there were a three common themes. About a third of the newcomers had been given a gift by wives and family. Obviously that's the group I fall in to. Many of these newcomers had never played organized ball and, even those who had played, stopped well before high school. This was the nervous group who obviously loved the game, but were unsure of their skills on the field. In a sense, coming the camp wasn't their idea!
Another third of the rookies were there because it was on their "bucket list". The whole bucket list concept is something that I have a hard time with, but it's how they described it. It was just something that they had always wanted to do and finally had a chance. All of the people in this category that I talked to had played baseball through high-school or college and just wanted to do it again.
Finally, the remaining group knew other people who had been to the camp before and wanted to join in the fun. Even though they were rookies, they seemed to know what to expect, had a built-in support group and had a blast without any of the awkwardness that the rest of us felt.
Obviously, there are people who attended for other reasons but, regardless, everybody at the camp had a deep love for the game of baseball.
I've also been wondering how I feel about all this now that it's over. I never had the "Fantasy" to play baseball. At most, I've had a lingering regret for not having played in high school. When the coaches would ask if there were any of our baseball fantasies we hadn't achieved yet, I think I just stared blankly. Some people really wanted to get on the mound and pitch, or play shortstop. Others really wanted to try to get a hit off of Shawn Estes, Russ Ortiz or Vida Blue. That wasn't me.
For me, this wasn't about putting on a Giant's uniform or pretending to be a baseball player. It was just about playing. And it was awesome. I would do this again here at the Giants Fantasy Camp. I would do it in Healdsburg at Recreation Park, if I could. I think I would have just as much fun in both venues. I would miss the instruction from our amazing coaching staff. I would also miss the locker room, the training staff, having our laundry done every night and finding polished shoes in my locker in the morning. But the games would be just as great.
I am proud of what I accomplished this week. I didn't hide on the bench or defer when someone asked if I wanted to play a position (other than pitcher). I played about 2/3 of all of the innings (in 5 positions) and didn't have a single error. I caught every fly ball, fielded every grounder and made every throw. I only struck out once in 12 at bats and walked twice. I hit a lot of grounders that didn't make it out of the infield and had two solid hits. I *think* this means that I batted 200. Our team's record was 4-1-1.
If you are a baseball player, you have probably found plenty of things to shake your head at in my posts. I hope that my writings have given you a chance to appreciate some of your experiences and skills that you take for granted.
I am NOT a baseball player, but I love the game and had an unbelievable week. Thanks Dave Miller and the 20-somethings who ran me through a practice at the high school. And, thanks Pamela, Kyle, Kevin, Colin and Nelson for giving me a gift that I didn't even know I wanted!