Yes, that’s me. Twelve years old, in 1980, in my Little League uniform. I can’t specifically remember how I got euchred into signing up for Little League, but I suspect that there was some well-intentioned parental pressure involved. There was definitely some sibling rivalry involved as well. However, as you can tell by a cursory glance a the picture, I was not a 12-year-old who was into sports.
The name of our team was the Royals. I played third base. I can infer from this that there must have been two or three guys on the team who were bigger spazzes than I. The only third-base action I got (so to speak), was a time when there were runners on second and third. The batter blooped a short fly to the shortstop, who winged it to me. I tagged the runner from second out, and was so amazed at this feat that it never occurred to me to throw to home. The runner on third scored, and the coach chewed me out anyway. It wasn’t ’til years later that I questioned why the shortstop hadn’t thrown to the catcher. Maybe it was too far for him to throw.
My younger brother, Todd, was on a rival team, the Orioles. So was every other kid in the neighborhood. As usual, I was the odd man out, the lone Royal in a neighborhood full of Orioles. This was in southern Pennsylvania, about an hour north of Baltimore – it was definitely O’s country. Also, the Little League O’s were good, and the Royals were not. Someone in the neighborhood hauled us to the games in a pickup truck, and I continually took chong from the tong from the Orioles in the truck on game day.
The fates conspired that the Royals played the Orioles for the championship. This in itself was amazing, given our basement-dwelling position for the first half of the season. However, we had acquired a secret weapon about mid-season: a new pitcher. I can’t remember his name, so I’ll call him Jake. Jake was a twelve-year-old hormone monster. He was nearly six feet tall, with a starter ‘stache and biceps and underarm hair. He could pitch like a sumbitch, too. Very powerful, but not a whole lot of control. I don’t think he ever actually beaned anybody, but the threat was always there.
On the way to the championship game, it was the usual raft of crap from the Orioles about how bad they were going to murder us. They had yet to play the Royals with Jake on the mound, and they didn’t know what they were up against. I just kept my mouth shut.
The rest is anticlimax. The Royals, with Jake at the helm, whipped the everloving snot out of the Orioles and took the championship. I’d like to say that I knocked it our of the park to make the winning run (believe me, it’s tempting – who would know?), but that’s not true. I don’t recall ever getting past second, actually. Probably just as well; I hated running.
So, maybe this story wasn’t as heart-warming as an all-American Little League story could be, but it was still personally satisfying. The ride back home in the truck with Todd and the rest of the Orioles was a lot more enjoyable for me than any of the other ones we’d made Turnabout is fair play, you cocky sonsabitches.
So there’s my little story behind the dorky 12-year-old Little League photo. I’ve been working on other things, as well – but nothing that’s close to being ready to share. I hope that 2021 is going to be a little more productive than this year has been when it comes to writing and storytelling. In the meantime, I will continue to bask in the glory of someone else’s 40-year-old sports achievement. And plug last year’s Dillinger novel.