Flying High on a Softball Championship

Mount McKinley, looking west, off the right wing, August, 2006

I have a confession to make. I’m a softball junkie. I played softball in the streets and fields of White Plains when I was a kid, I played in work leagues in Massachusetts, Florida and New York, I swung a bat at many summer functions. And after a 10-year retirement from organized play, I resumed my softball career in 2003. Been playing ever since.

Two years ago come August, our team, which has been sponsored by a succession of Irish sports pubs, won the league championship. Last year, we lost in the final inning of the decisive third game. This year we’re off to a shaky start, but we’ll come around. We’ve been there before. We know how to win.

The 2006 championship was sweet. It easily topped the Yankees five-game sweep over the Red Sox at Fenway the following week, which I experienced from Alaska, my final frontier in a 50-state quest. Here’s the note I wrote to my teammates on a Frontier Airlines flight from Fairbanks to Anchorage, with Mount McKinley (aka Denali) rising above the clouds off the right wing.

Subject: Victory

What a great feeling — they can call us a lot of things, and now they can call us champions. It was a privilege to play with you men this year, and in years past. We had a real good mix of veterans and younger players, and we played as a team all year, with hustle and determination and respect for the game.

And it paid off in the end. There’s no denying we played our best ball in the final weeks, peaking at just the right time in the playoffs. It’s a testament to our team that we raised our level of play when it mattered most. I think those other teams are still wondering what hit them.

This is for all the guys who contributed to this team throughout the years. Here’s to the players who played hurt, to our timely hitting, to our pitchers who kept confusing the opposition, to the defense which tightened up considerably in the final weeks.

Most of all, here’s to us.

Rick

PS — We should get the team together to raise the trophy (if there is one) and toast to our success.

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