My teams have continually discovered new and unique ways to blow softball games. But this spring, our opponents have trumped us.
Two of these undeserved victories have been handed to/earned by my Sigal Construction team in the Montgomery County C League. We trailed McPhillips Exxon, 7-4, going into the bottom of the seventh when the McPhillips captain yielded to the nagging of one of his new players who continually boasted he could pitch better than Urban, the team's over-50 pitcher who is still one of the best I've ever seen.
The reliever walked the first four hitters. McPhillips never did retire a batter and we scored four runs for an 8-7 victory.
That game may have been stolen, but two weeks later, that same team came up with a victory that was swindled.
Ten minutes before game time, we had only eight players and no hopes for the minimum ninth to arrive. Among the eight present, one had a pulled hamstring; another had serious knee problems; and I had sat out games the previous two days because of a twisted ankle. Yet, I do not believe in forfeits.
I struggled over to an adjacent basketball court and broke up a game of three-on-three, begging at least one of the players to come over and play softball. One, Jim Downs, said he'd rather play basketball, but agreed to help out. The other five players were rather upset with me for breaking up their game, and it got worse when they found out Jim was taking his basketball, too.
Jim was technically a legal player because rosters did not have to be finalized for another two weeks. He made two great catches in right field, drove home one run and scored the other as we beat Harris Corporation, 2-0. He has since become a regular. Match that recruiting tale, Lefty Driesell or John Thompson.
In another memorable game this year, my Foundry Restaurant team in the Georgetown Bar League spotted Champions an eight-run first-inning and came back to win, 21-17. Our main man was Paul, a newly-hired broiler cook who turns meatball pitches into filet mignon-type home runs. He hit two long homers in a great victory.
The most remarkable victory I have ever been part of is simply known to teammates of three years ago as "the Rain Game." It started with a huge, black cloud approaching from the west and an accompanying lightning show.
Entering the bottom of the fifth trailing, 4-1, most of our players were watching from the parking lot and the hitters, in fear of becoming lightning rods, refused to use aluminum bats. With two outs, the bases were loaded and John (Mr. RBI) McWeeny was assuredly going to be the game's final batter. Just as he hit a ground ball, a flood fell from the sky.
The shortstop never saw the ball. Our runners were circling the bases, if nothing else, to gain momentum in an effort to get to their cars. An outfielder finally picked up the ball, but proceeded to throw it over the backstop. As the umpire scampered from the field, he yelled, "Ball out of play; the last two runners score," and we ended up with a 5-4 victory.
There also have been losses never to be forgotten such as "the Machete Game" played last year by my Easy Sliders co-rec team.
Last year's 4-10 record (including two forfeit victories) was the Sliders' best in five seasons. There was one game, however, against a legitimately good team, in which the Sliders held a 6-4 lead in the final inning.
The opposition had two runners on and two outs, but the next hitter lofted a short fly toward our right fielder. He took a few steps in, lined it up and then, it seemed, an invisible machete cut him down at the knees and he fell on his face. The ball hit three inches from his head and skipped by for a three-run homer. We lost, 7-6.
Yet, that ending is only second in pain to one experienced by Jim Meehan, a softball fanatic from Olney who has been known to play 200 games a summer.
"It was 11 years ago and I was pitching," he said. "There were two outs in the last inning and a guy popped to shortstop, but a kid had run on the field and the umpire said he called, 'No pitch.' The other team used the second chance to score eight runs and ended up winning, 14-13. That's one of those games people say, when they get to heaven, they will ask God to show a replay of it because it was a classic."