While playing church league softball on Tuesday nights, I am occasionally recognized as 'the Gazette guy.' I am never recognized as a good athlete.
But what do you do to a ballplayer who can't cut it on the field and isn't smart enough to hang up his glove?
I've been at it for about six weeks. No one has yet called for me to be fired, but it's church league softball, so I like to think I have a little more margin for error than, say, Jim Leyland.
We did not lose our first game of the season. It was rained out. Have to start somewhere.
In week two, I was ready to inspire our team to a rally in its last at-bat when I failed to notice we had already completed seven innings and the game was over.
I have learned quite a bit about leadership and setting an example. For instance, we played a doubleheader Tuesday and I had a textbook hard-hit single up the middle.
Unfortunately, the at-bats preceding it included grounding into a double play, striking out and popping up to the pitcher with runners on and two outs. It got so bad I demoted myself in the batting order.
Because this is a church league, we are to set an example spiritually as well. I offered the prayer before a game earlier in the season and specifically asked God to provide for safe competition. Without violating medical privacy laws, let's just say it didn't work. Sorry.
The following week, I accentuated a mundane pop-up to short by falling on my face coming out of the batter's box. Thankfully, the eyes of most everyone on the field were following the ball and not the fall, but I still fell on my face. It left me with a bruised sense of pride and oddly enough for church league, skinned hands that looked vaguely stigmatic.
In the 21st century, getting media exposure is important for any ballclub. U.P. photographer extraordinaire Paul Gerard contacted me early one week looking for local events at which he could keep his reflexes sharp. I told him about Little League, Twilight League and the Copper Country Soccer Association. He chose us.
Dreams of bubble-gum cards danced in my head as we took the field, but so did fears of a Facebook-style disaster. The Internet is forever, and Paul managed to capture me successfully corralling a ball in the sun in right field. I told you he was good. All I was hoping was proof I could provide to Mom that I was getting exercise.
I would have settled for a modest defeat with a new Facebook profile pic, but we just kept recording outs and, would you believe it, we won the goshdarned thing.
It was a miracle amongst the mosquitoes.
I would have been happy to take questions from the assembled media like Jim Leyland. I would have even mumbled a few lines about Donny Kelly, but really the only media assembled was Stephen Anderson, and he was playing for the other team. Still, my career now has something even Babe Ruth and Sandy Koufax never achieved.
If that's not all the proof one needs to know God has a sense of humor, I can't preach it to you any better.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.