When people think of men playing slow pitch softball, a few images might pop into their heads. A bunch of non-athletic guys hobbling around and drinking beer. A church league where there are a lot of swings and misses. An intramural league in college where the athletics team up to dominate everyone else.
That may be what people think about, but I grew up in a different kind of game. My dad sponsored a professional men’s slow pitch softball team, and we played at the highest levels of the sport. We flew throughout the country to play in the biggest tournaments and had players at the peak of their athletic form. When I try to describe how good these guys were, people can’t believe that most of the players could hit softballs out of baseball stadiums.
(Time for a little bragging. In recent years, my dad, his manager and four of his players have been inducted into the Tennessee Softball Hall of Fame.)
I can vividly remember playing under the lights on a Saturday night with thousands of people around the field. Ray’s voice would be booming through the air as he announced the game. While he didn’t take sides, Ray told me privately that he was also pulling for us. Our budget wasn’t as large as the teams we were playing, so we were a perpetual underdog that made sure our opponent was in for a fight.
Like all good announcers, Ray had catchphrases that everyone recognized.
If a player had hit for a single and a home run, then he had hit for “the minimum and the maximum”.
When a team was coming up to bat in an inning, the first batter was in the box; the second batter was on deck; and, the third batter was “lurking in the shadows”.
If a player had not yet gotten a hit, then he was “tangled up in the schneid”.
I have been thinking about Ray’s lines because I feel that I am tangled up in the blogging schneid. I am having a hard time coming up with anything that is interesting or original. My posts are lacking something that I can’t put my finger on. It just feels that there is something missing.
When a player stepped to the plate and heard Ray talking about the schneid, they would react a couple of ways. One, they would get mad and make it worse. Two, they would use it for motivation to get a hit. I don’t know which way I am going to react, but, right now, I feel like the schneid is all over me.