With the Major League Baseball playoffs happening it reminded me of my playing days. Surprisingly enough, I did not play Major League Baseball, rather 'Buddy Ball'. Buddy Ball was the closest thing for crips.
Buddy Ball was baseball for people with disabilities. Each disabled player had a 'buddy' they were paired with to field the ball and to push you along the bases when you were at bat. We hit off a T since most crips can't throw a ball to save your life. When your team was in the field the crip player would hold his ball cap like a net and your buddy would field the ball and place it in the hat. If you have seen my hands before, putting a glove on it would be as frustrating as bending a spoon mentally.
One year my parents thought it would be good if my sister would be my 'buddy' for the season. My sister is 10 years older than me and this was during the time of her partying days. She wanted nothing more than getting home at 3am to wake up at 8am to play Buddy Ball. I wanted nothing more than a hung over buddy. Nobody would ever have suspected that we would be the most feared players in the game that season.
The first game came around. I seen a spark in my sister. Buddy Ball was intended to get disabled people out doing activities. My sister saw it as a competitive sport that could be won, where there were winners and losers. She was going to relive her softball days and bring the pennant home to the red team. My sister raced me around the bases more reckless than a Fast & The Furious movie. If you stepped in front of us...your wheelchair would be scrap metal and the buddy would need a buddy for the next game.
The whole next week my sister had me in the driveway practicing for the next game. My sister thought it took too much time for her to field the ball from the ground and run it over to me and drop it in my hat. She came up with the Buddy Ball game changer - the throw! She had me place my hat on my lap and she would field the ball and throw it (hard) right into my lap. Needless to say getting a baseball in the junk wasn't making me feel so good. I never had more of an appreciation for oxygen as I did then. I complained to my sister and she said, "Walk it off, we need to win"...yes, I appreciate the irony in her reply.
She did not stop there. She made modifications to my chair...it looked like something the A-Team put together. She took off the arm rests and feet rests as she thought that was giving too much weight and drag around the corners as we rounded the bases. By the time she was done it looked like a shopping cart as my arms and legs hung over. However, I successfully negotiated to keep the seat belt.
We piled up the wins that season. The play I remember most was the time we got a home run. The team we were playing had a catcher with all four prosthetic limbs. We hit the ball and my sister pushed my chair so fast I could see my life pass before my eyes. I thought we were going to stop at 3rd base because the ball was headed home. My sister thought different, The catcher stumbled to the baseline and we smashed right into him. All I saw were limbs flying everywhere as we zoomed through. While everyone else was putting the catcher back together, the ref called us 'SAFE!'
We never got invited to play buddy ball again after that season
I learned three things that season:
- You should always wear a cup
- Pain is temporary, but victory is forever
- My sister is pretty awesome
Until next time...