Every year around the time of the all-star game, I get out my last pair of spikes and relive those halcyon days of yesteryear. Let's just say I know how Ricky Henderson feels. Lacing up my cleats brings back a flood of memories. Like the jokes my coaches used to make about how slow I ran. I wasn't slow, I just had longer strides. Another coach I had used to saunter out to the mound after I'd walked someone in a big game and he'd ask if I would be showing up to play any time soon, then tell me a dirty joke. After awhile he just skipped to the joke.
I was playing four and five times a week with doubleheaders on Sunday and taking my children with me
to every game. I set them up on the sidelines on lounge chairs with
their comfort toys and some snacks and they'd sit and watch quietly for
the whole game.
Those were the summers when I spent more time wearing shirts with names
of bars on the front. And all my socks were striped hightops.
If you look closely at the picture of the shoes, you can see the orange
dust from some ballfield tracing the outline of the stitching on the
By the end of most games my spikes
were completely orange from all the dust kicked up during the game. I'd
wipe them clean afterward and polish them good at the end of the
Except the last time. When I knew I wouldn't be playing anymore. I was already two years passed my expiration date. So I
just wiped them off and left them as they were. Like people who bring
back sand from the beach.
The other day, I thought about putting my cleats on and walking around on
the lawn pretending I was aerating the soil. Just to feel the grass.
My gloves are in storage. In fact
one of them is still in New Jersey because I used to play catch with my
college roomie's niece who was a high school pitcher. She regularly
left my shins covered in red welts after an hour of letting me catch
her practice. I don't have to worry about anyone taking that glove because it's lefty.
If I had my gloves on a convenient shelf at home I'd probably get them
out on a nice day and see if some neighborhood kid wanted to play catch
with me. Yeah, sure, Mrs. Linklater, maybe later. Shouldn't you
be crocheting blankets or something?
It's not just my softball spikes, either.
I saved my favorite pair of Bruno
Magli spikes, too. They're tame by today's standards, only three
inches high, but those red open-toed sling backs can still take me down
memory lane. Of course, watching me try to get them on is a
little like Cinderella's ugly stepsisters trying to jam their size tens
into a size five glass slipper. Hey, these used to fit. I can't believe
I ever walked on anybody's back in those. Or danced on a table
off that island in Greece with that gorgeous tour guide. Yeah,
like any of that happened. I'm saving them for the grandkids to
play dress up. You never know -- by the time my daughters have
might be encouraged to develop their feminine sides.
And girls might even be given a bat
and a ball on their fifth birthdays. Either way, I'll have the
shoes for them. Here, kids, you can play with Grandma's spikes.
I can't wait.