ET and I used to play in a beer league softball team in SJ. This was the first time I had ever played the game and getting used to playing and catching with a glove on my non-dominant hand took some getting used to. But the main problem was that I had no idea how to play the game, that has since changed and in fact I’m a qualified baseball coach.
To give you an example of what it’s like to grow up in a country that plays cricket not baseball, I didn’t realise for instance that in the case of a run down, as an infielder you can’t grab the runner(who knew?). I also had trouble with depth perception (still do) which made me pretty much useless in the outfield too. So as with baseball, which I played for 10 years on my return to Oz, I ended up pitching.
Another thing that always eluded me was the slide. While I’ve taught (by explanation not example) many a young player how to successfully execute a hook slide, I never really got the hang of it, but that’s much later. This story is about softball.
At the time we were in the beer league, Pete Rose was still playing (this was before they crucified him), and if you know him you’ll know he was one of the best exponents of the head-first slide, I’ve seen him do it at first which is just plain dumb. On this particular occasion, ET was telling me all about the head-first slide and how effective it is. This was sage advice, problem is, ET was a footballer not a baseballer.
So now we’ve got a runner on 3rd (ET) and one out when there was a dink hit to right field. ET took off for Home and if you didn’t know it was him you could have swore he was a professional ball player. As he approached the plate he heard the coach yell "Slide", I’m not really sure why, because the ball was still in right field, having been dropped several times by the right fielder.
I could see the cogs ticking in ET’s head "This is my big chance to show that Aussie what a great ball player I am with a Pete Rose special" and with that he dove for the plate. But there was a conflict between his ego and his commonsense, because no sooner had he dived when he tried to pull out of it. The result was an image that even now, if it enters my consciousness (unbidden or otherwise) I’ll burst into laughter, regardless of where I am.
Have you ever seen Peppy La Peu? You know the skunk that is always chasing the cat with the paint stripe. You know the way he kinda bounces along after the cat? Well that’s what ET looked like in amongst the great cloud of dust he created. Here’s ET bouncing into home plate on all fours in a cloud of dust. But wait (as they say in the knife advertisements), there’s more. Because his idea was to slide head first into home, he timed his slide different to where he would have started if he had decided to bounce in, consequently his slide finished about 18 inches short of the plate.
So here’s ET frozen about a foot and a half short of home plate, stunned and doing his best dog impersonation, and thereby giving the ball all the time it needed to get to the catcher for the tag.
Filed under: Anecdotes |