Bryan’s Song

View from the bench in softball may not be so bad.

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By Bryan Gallegos

I told my wife I joined a softball team.

She gave me a quizzical look, as if to say: “Are you out of your mind?”

I knew what she was thinking.

George Bush was still in office the last time you played softball. The first Bush.

The price of a gallon of gasoline was 97 cents the last time you played softball.

The internet was in its infancy to the public and known as the Super Highway the last time you played softball.

You used to wear a size 40 waist the last time you played softball.

OK, Dear. You made your point. Thank you for your support.

But I’m still playing.

Shortly after I told my loving Wifey of 32 years, we went to a birthday party with many of my teammates. I introduced Wifey to them and we had a great time. Most of them were in their 20s, some in their 30s and maybe one or two in their 40s.

And then there was me, a guy who remembers watching Bonanza before it went into reruns. I was the guy who had a huge crush on Marcia Brady from The Brady Bunch. And I remember Woodstock, the British Invasion and Hank Williams. The first Hank Williams.

She looked at me, shook her head slightly, and emphatically said with a chuckle: “You’re going to be a bench warmer!”

What? Bench warmer? Why?

“I didn’t see one chubby guy there,” she said, her words turning to laughter.

Thank you, Dear. Thank you so much for your support.

I will admit, I have put down my share of burritos, burgers and beers over the years. But who hasn’t? And yes, I don’t have that Jack LaLanne look anymore, mainly because of Jack-In- The-Box, Cracker Jacks and Jack Daniels.

But I can whip myself back into shape … just like I did when I was a kid.

First, though, I had to dig out my gear … my glove autographed by Vida Blue, my white Reggie Jackson-style Puma baseball shoes, and my green and gold Oakland baseball cap that had the cool “Swinging A’s” patch on the side.

I couldn’t find the box with my ancient artifacts. I know I didn’t throw the box away, but it was gone. I’m not going to say who, but I have a strong suspicion …

I took care of it, though. I bought a new glove and some baseball shoes. No autographs and no Pumas, but, it’s time for a new beginning.

With the season more than a month away, I figured I better start jogging to get ready. Back in the day, I did my share of jogging. Every morning I got up at 5:30 in the morning and ran several miles before school. I ran the two-mile for the track team in high school.

On that first day of training, the alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. I want to say I jumped out of bed, ran a comb across my head, slipped into my running gear and blasted off for a spirited work out.

I reached over and clocked the clock and I pulled the covers off. I was immediately devoured by the cold morning air. My body was quick to react.

“Oh, hell no!” my body seemed to say. “Are you out of your mind?”

I pulled the covers right back. I started a little later, when it was warmer.

A couple of hours later, I put on my old Chuck Taylors and grey sweats and started stretching. I figured I would jog a mile at a leisurely pace, rest for two minutes then do another mile at a pace to bring up a good sweat.

I started my jog with the motivational tunes from the soundtrack of “Rocky” blaring in my Walkman. After a few steps, I could feel the burn, and it felt good. I was back, baby.

No pain, no gain, right? I had the first part right. I couldn’t breathe. My legs were like jelly as they tried to support my beach ball of a midsection. My side hurt. And my arms felt like wet sacks of cement.

I figured I had to of run at least three-quarters of a mile. But I looked around and realized I had run three-quarters of a block. I had to stop to catch my breath, and my pride.

I tried to restart the engine.

And I head my body say: “Oh, hell no!”

I remember what my old coach used to say back in the day. He loved quoting Yogi Berra to motivate us, and his favorite saying was: “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”

Put a sock in it, Yogi. It’s over!

I went home … walking, no make that limping … and got back under the covers.

I guess being a bench warmer won’t be so bad.


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