Thursday, September 2, 2010

Barbi Beckett: Brought To You By...

My journey with sports is one of consistent mediocrity starting with Bobby Sox Softball in fourth grade. My personal pattern of excelling as a beginner, hitting an early plateau and then quitting had yet to develop so, there was just a forgettable four eyes, too small and permed to look athletic to anyone but herself.

Without memorable skills, the details that do remain vivid are all in the uniform. The bevies in the Bobby Sox league were differentiated by colors (this is common in sports to distinguish teams) - yellow, red, blue, purple, green, orange and, the coveted, black. Each year you'd be assigned to a different color.

Working from the top, we had the standard baseball lid - white plastic net in the back half, with a semi circle cut-out for ponytails and an adjustable plastic strap. The front half was team-colored polyester with your first name stitched in white cursive.  The hat was the only thing we got to keep.

Moving down, all players were loaned white short-sleeved polyester button-up shirts.  The distinction on the shirts was an 8X10 sign that would later be velcroed on the back.  This was the logo of your team's corporate sponsor printed in your team color.  You didn't find out who it was until the day of the first game.

The shirt was tucked into the monochrome polyester shorts.  We bought our own team-colored, fat striped, knee-high tube socks.  And, lastly, nothing makes an untalented ten year old feel bad ass like a pair of cleats.  God, I loved my cleats.  Unfortunately, they were a couple sizes too big because my dad wanted them to fit for a good long time - so, clown cleats, but still . . .
Preparation for the first game consisted of learning to catch grounders without turning our heads and fly balls without closing our eyes.  I remember little else about practices, probably because of the day I decided to work on my swing with two bats as I'd seen sporty looking girls do.  I nailed myself in the back of the head with a mighty force and learned that it's very hard to play-off humiliation when you're concussed and disoriented.  
On our way from the parking lot on the day of the first game, my friend and I saw our opponents, The Red Team, warming up.  They were already wearing their sponsor signs and they looked cool.  Coca Cola.  We pepped our step to learn what logo would so neatly bring our yellow uniforms together.  We arrived at our dugout  to find a few teammates and coaches standing around quietly and avoiding eye contact.  And then we saw the signs we'd be wearing for the season.  Roto Rooter. 
Jingle: Roto Rooter, that's the name/Flush your troubles down the drain
Hardly.  Nothing can destroy a team's morale faster than having to play for clogged toilets.  Oh, the fun the other colors would have with their taunting cheers.  I suggested we beat them to the punch by embracing it and singing, "Roto Rooter, that's the name, Flush your tee-eam down the drain".  Everyone was too dejected to see the brilliance in that idea.
I don't remember how our team did that season but I do recall that a lot of Roto Rooter signs "accidentally" went through the wash.  And I never grew into my cleats.  Ever.


  1. nice! very cleanly written, very funny ending.

  2. That was great. It brought back so many memories of playing softball in 3rd and 4th grade.

    The line about looking away when catching a fly ball reminded me of the first time I caught a line drive. It was with my face. I was scared of the ball after that, but I was a great hitter.