Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Out At Home

I was a little bit of a jockette in my day. Tomboy. Sportsy. I grew up with brothers and a neighborhood full of boys. I'm about as far from athletic as a person can be these days, but at one time I identified fairly strongly with that lifestyle. I played sandlot football, church league basketball and softball for several years, and competitive tennis for many years. I bowled and played softball for my employer's teams, too. I was a pretty good wrestler in my day, as well. 

My softball position was catcher. Catcher is a rough place to be. You don't get a break; something's always happening at home. Outfielders, basemen, and short stops all have intermittent work. A catcher is active: every time a pitch is thrown, she's moving. Squatting, kneeling, stooping, standing, stretching, returning the ball to the mound, watching for base stealers, trying to catch fouls. 

Once play is initiated, the catcher's still on the job, eyes peeled, waiting to head off that third-base runner. When I played ball, you might throw to a baseman and the runner'd be out. But at home? The runner had to be physically tagged out by the catcher -- me. 

We played some rough gals. They'd just as soon knock me down as get tagged out. I learned that the hard way. (That's not counting the numerous batters who do their dead level best to strike the catcher when they swing those deadly aluminum bats). Somewhere are a couple of photos of me literally backed up between the umpire's spread legs, hugging the chain link fence to avoid being struck by a forceful batter who is stretched out as far as humanly possible, doing her best to hit me. 

So when the pitcher, fielder, shortstop, or baseman throws home to put a batter out, it's not merely a matter of the ball getting home. The catcher has work to do once she makes her catch. 

Why the sports lesson, you ask? I want you thinking when you read this poem I wrote. Because it's not enough that the ball is thrown, or caught. There's still work to be done once it arrives. 

And the punctuation is very intentional. ~~GH

Out At Home

I hurl my signal
Across the miles
Like a desperate throw to home.
It’s wild and it hurts.
So much depends
On that horsehide;
I hope it connects

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