Life at Sloane House YMCA


My Field of Dream

One day we were told there was a big softball tournament going on in New York City. Hundreds of teams would compete in the tournament. The championship game would be played at Yankee Stadium. My friends and I were all very excited about this news. We knew we were a good team and we believed we had a very good chance to play the championship game, which meant we would play at the Yankee Stadium.

We indeed had a very good team: Howie was the best short stop, Jason was a power hitter at 3rd. Raul of professional caliber played outfield. Danny the “George” (he was like the twin brother of character George in Seinfield) played second base. I was the best pitcher at Great Lawn... After our team finalized the roster, I told my teammates I would take them to Chinatown for dim sum on game day. We gathered at Howard’s apartment on 21st and 7th and took the N train to Chinatown at 10:00 that morning. We could not stop talking about how we would play at Yankee Stadium, especially those who were Yankee fans.

I took them to Silver Palace at Bowery Street. My friends loved dim sum! I ordered all the dishes for the group and they tried every one of them, except for one: chicken feet in black beans. I told them they were not really having dim sum if they didn’t try that chicken feet dish. Howie and some brave ones reluctantly tried it at the end of our brunch. But right before we were leaving Silver Palace, some of them started running to the rest room. I didn’t know what was going on and just as I was wondering, they had that discomfort look on their face when they came out of the rest room. They said they were having diarrhea. "It must be the chicken feet!" they said. But I was fine and I ate the most, I told them.

We had planned to have some warm up games before the game, just to make sure we were all still fresh for the game. But we had to cancel them due to this unforeseen event. Luckily the game would start until 4:00PM. So we had enough time to wait for our team mates to recover.

3:30pm, we made it to the field. It was at 53 and 10th. It seemed my team mates all had recovered. Game started ata 4:00PM sharp. We found our opposing team had a celebrity: Bill Evens, the Channel 7 weather man. We were even more convinced that we would match to Yankee Stadium without problemo, even playing with diarrhea. Because we had never seen those people at Great Lawn before and we knew how good we were. It was not if we would win, it was how bad we had to beat them.

The first pitch I threw was a fast ball. It was my signature pitch: inside fastball set up by "Taxas" Don, the catcher. Usually batter would get jammed by the pitch and popped it out in left. The first batter from the opposing team was frozen by my pitch and didn’t bother to swing the bat. I knew I had my stuff that afternoon. The empire, however, came to the mount after that pitch, telling me I had to pitch a certain way during this match. To be precise, I could not pitch fastball like that. "It's illegal. " he said. Well, basically my fast ball was too fast for this tournament. So in stead, I had to lob the ball to the plate. The requirment was when the ball came out pitcher’s hand, the ball needed to be at 10 feet high and dropped slowly at strike zone. Hitters would have to wait till the ball dropped then hit. Great Lawn softball was a competitive softball. Many of us played in an organized league. The “best pitcher” crown was earned. Batters gave me a great deal of respect. Lobbing the ball to the plate was neighborhood, street corner type of soft ball, not Great Lawn softball, I said to myself.

It turned out our first opposing team was our only opposing team. I got hammered and had to be relieved at the end of 2 innings. It was the first time that I was relieved during a softball game. Well, reliever Jack wasn't any better. We didn't just lose the game, we were completely humiliated. At the end of the 6th inning the mercy rule imposed. Our dream of playing at Yankee Stadium was crushed. Afterwards my teammates blamed on the chicken feet they ate at Silver Palace that morning. Even today they still blame me for losing that game.

Years later my wife wondered why I did not want to join the softball league in our little town. I didn’t bother to tell her the truth: I saw the guys played in the field right cross my house. They played lobbing, slow-motion softball game, the type of softball only guys like Bill Evens would play. There was no chance that I would be part of that. Whenever Bill Evens makes comments about playing softball on the air, I would grind my teeth and switch the TV station quickly. Obviously, the wound inflicted from that lose hasn’t healed completely.


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