Freddie P shared a chain email that's been making the rounds and it opened an old wound. The email is for those of us born before the 1980s and it includes this line:
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
Those three sentences opened up memories I had successfully repressed. Here's my story, it will feel good to put this out there.
I have always loved baseball. It was my first sporting love, even before hockey. That 1983 Blue Jays team struck a chord with me and I was hooked.
I worked very hard at the sport. I listened to Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth and learned when to take that extra base and when to throw where and the intricacies of the game. I worked on my fielding, my throwing, my batting and I followed the Jays with a fervent passion. I loved the Leafs, but the Jays were my team and I put myself in the game. I wanted to play ball.
I was a solid, smart player, but I wasn't very big. I'd say I did the most with what I had and probably a little more because I always gave my all. That bullshit adage about giving 110% was actually true in my case. I played every inning like it was the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series.
I played softball at Rennie Park in the Swansea League, but I wanted to play real baseball. I wanted to face the best around. I wanted to face fastballs and lay down suicide squeezes and steal off of catchers with a gun. I wanted to play High Park Little League.
I'll never forget the tryouts. I attended every one and gave my all. Others were pounding the ball and I was just trying to make good contact. Others were throwing home from the outfield with ease while I was just trying to keep my throws online. At the end of the tryouts, one of the coaches spoke to me and a group of kids and gave us the bad news. We weren't good enough for the High Park Little League majors.
That's right, I was cut from Little League. I was never going to play in the Little League World Series. I just wasn't good enough, and I returned that summer to softball at Rennie Park.
That was the first time I really wanted something and gave my all only to come up empty handed. They said you could do anything if you put your mind to it. Until then, I believed that. I was a decent player with passion, commitment and baseball smarts, but I had to learn to deal with one heaping pile of disappointment.