Softball & Baseball.
I first took up softball in Ireland back in 1992 when I was 28 and played for about 10 years. I absolutely loved it.
For about 9 of those years I played for a team called The Thirteen Threes. (Named after the 13.3 second world record for running around a baseball diamond.) I actually did it in 13.1 seconds. No, seriously. But that was on a softball diamond which is about 30 yards shorter.
For the last year, I played for our arch nemesis – The Troops. But, to be fair, a lot of my mates played for them.
The highlight of the season was the summer cup competitions which were held over the weekend, either in Cork or Galway. For teams like us, it was just an excuse for a major piss-up. And it never failed to disappoint.
I was lucky enough to play shortstop for most of my softballing days. And saw myself very much like this…
I suspect this was closer to reality…
As I said, I loved playing the game, not just for the sport, but because of the team spirit and camaraderie, and the innumerable wonderful people I met whilst playing it.
Could’ve done without breaking most of my pinkies though. The worst was a double fracture and dislocation sliding into second base. Still, not as bad as having my palate fractured from taking a ball in the mouth. Or having my nose shattered for a similar reason. Both of which happened to teammates.
For that, I am truly grateful.
I got into watching baseball as a result of playing softball. Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch it on TV over in the UK. (Not sure why American Football deserves that much more coverage.) So I buy the odd DVD or watch clips on YouTube and imagine I’m the one getting the triple play. (I use a hairbrush as a microphone on weekends.)
This was the Thirteen Threes in Cork in about 1993. That’s me, fag in hand, dipping under the railing. Not sure where I’m going. It certainly wasn’t onto the pitch as we were spectators. I think we might’ve actually been watching The Troops in the final. (We were all mates.)
From left to right: I think that’s Al O’Donohoe (with his sweet cheeks to camera), Peter somebody (he was new), John Flynn (the gaffer), Briain Wright, Ian Doherty, yours truly, Bernadette Dooley, Tony Purcell and Liz Flynn. No idea who the geezer is on the far right. So many more teammates not in this shot who I am still close friends with today.