Thursday, May 28, 2015

Guest Post: Sprung Free in Spring

It's been a while, but here's Mrs. Orel with a travelogue:

For Dodger fans, spring signifies trips to Camelback Ranch, Opening Day at Dodger Stadium and renewed hope for a winning season.

For east coast baseball fans, spring signifies wearing shorts, greenery, and a renewed hope for warmth.

After back-to-back brutal winters, New Yorkers and Bostonians are reveling in lighter clothing, sun-kissed cheeks, and the parks, the parks, the parks, where balls are tossed, hit, and caught in freshly unearthed gloves.

Orel and I were in Manhattan, where we observed New Yorkers bouncing around city streets like released prisoners. Central Park, on a Sunday in May, was filled with children chasing pigeons, parents chasing children, and adults chasing softballs.

We plopped ourselves onto the wooden stands at the Hecksher Ballfields as two teams readied to face off. Folks have been playing these six fields since 1927. Central Park is home to 27 baseball and softball fields. Every year, hundreds of games are played by teams of all stripes and ages.

The Broadway Show League, for example, is serious softball biz-ness. Teams made up of casts, crews and orchestras of current Broadway and off-Broadway shows must wear matching uniforms ablaze with show titles. Games are played on Thursday afternoons. If you can't get a ticket to
Kinky Boots, Jersey Boys, or Wicked, find your way to Central Park and watch the Boots kick the pants off those Boys in some Wicked rundowns.

We had the privilege of witnessing teams from a, I want to say, over-50 or over-60 league, but on closer inspection included some younger fellows. Two teams dressed in a mashup of AL and NL shirts and caps. "Warming up" would be a loose description of their preparations. For a full 20 minutes before the first pitch, players squabbled over the position of the third-base bag.

"Here! Right here! I'm tellin''s 60 feet between bases!"
"Let's go!" from an outfielder.
"What the hell, not there? Are you nuts?!"
"Let's go!" from the same outfielder.
"No, I'm sayin' here!"
"Let's go!" Guess who.

Once the game began we laughed every time the ump called a strike. Pure showmanship, pure grandstanding, pure New York as he threw his arm skyward and swayed his hips, his voice hitting notes we hadn't heretofore heard.

The bickering continued. Was he out, was he safe, could he run (iffy), should he run (iffy), a foul, a strike, a ball...where we eatin' afterwards?

These were New Yorkers let loose after a harsh winter, at the end of what may have been a rough workweek or a slow retirement week, who knows. But their comical joy was as delicious as a pizza slice or pastrami on rye. I'd love to know where they corralled their creaking bones for a beer and somethin'.


Alex Cora said...

Great write up. I just went to my nephew's t ball game. Kids digging in the sand, running the opposite way, knocking heads when 5 of them all run for the ball. Sometimes is just neat to watch kids or adults play, not for the score or the money, but just for fun.

Fred's Brim said...

I was in the park on Sunday, and my kid was indeed chasing pigeons.

QuadSevens said...

60 foot bases would be fun. How many stolen bases would Zack have then? Great post. And now I want pizza.

spank said...

i want pizza too. i've never been to Central Park. hell i've never been anywhere. 27 baseball fields is huge. noice post. thanks,mrs.Orel!

karen said...

Thank you, Mrs. Orel...Please contribute more often!!! I almost felt like I was there in Central Park! AC is right. There is something to be said about enjoying the game for the games sake.

@Spank....I've never been to New York either. Would love to go pay my respects to 9/11 victims and survivors not to mention to just see the great city itself, even Yankmee Stadium sans yankmes of course. When you are a rich and famous musician you gotta take me!!!!

Dusty Baker's Toothpick said...

Mrs. Orel this is a terrific piece! Don't be a stranger and entertain with more guest reads.

spank said...

you got it,karen. we are so there. we'll even go to Brooklyn and check out the site of the ol' cathedral and then in the evening we'll party it up with Madonna and my homeboy Bieber cause i'm a belieber.