After breaking my leg, I was told “no more running sports, Rob”. If you’ve been a long time reader, then you’ve probably picked up on my thoughts regarding the importance of common activities and sports, especially in a relationship. (If not, here’s a sample story – link).
Soon after breaking my leg though, I also had the bout of blood clotting in my left leg after what was supposed to be an easy-in, easy-out surgery. So if after the knee surgery and leg break running sports was a possibility, after also losing a lot of circulation in the same leg, running was definitely out of the picture. Oh sure, I cheated a few times, like playing softball for my group at P&G one day.
(time for a quick flashback)
My group needed players and I agreed on condition that I pitched and they batted me last in the order, recognizing that I was going to sort of ‘shuffle’ my way around the bases when I batted. I had pitched before and actually was ok at it, rarely walking anyone. The pitching spot can be dangerous. It’s the position closest to the batter and some of the line drives can come in hard and fast. I was always better as a fielder anyway though when I didn’t have time to think about the play. Let me tell you, when a line drive comes right at you on a short distance pitching mound, you have maybe a quarter of a second to react – you get your glove out in front of the ball or you’d better get your head on the ground because otherwise it might get taken off!
The hardest line drive I ever got shot at me was actually at this P&G game I just mentioned. Before the game I had been visiting with a few people I hadn’t seen in awhile but used to work with. One was named Charlie and I’d told him that I was pitching. Charlie was a nice guy but had joked about looking forward to my being a nice target on the mound. Well about the fourth inning, Charlie hit an absolute rocket right back to me. Luckily, I didn’t have to move my glove hand very far, maybe only a couple of inches. Charlie was just smiling because he didn’t get any chance to run even a step, that’s how fast it was, and of course after catching something like that, you get to hear the catcalls from the other bench – “lucky”, “look what I found”. As Charlie was smiling I simply mouthed an “ow” his way. (Shh, it really hurt like hell).
The highlight for me in this cheating game was my shuffle triple. My first two at bats I had placed two easy singles in right field, over the infielders heads. I always found this to be the easiest way to get on base, especially since I wasn’t supposed to run. On my third at bat, I saw the two center fielders cheat their way far up, very close to the infield. They were going to get a jump on my next short line drive. The first couple of pitches were too high so as I was letting them pass by the plate, I turned my body to the right as if I were going to try to repeat my first two shots. But on the third pitch, (ah, it was perfect), I reared back and swung as hard as I could, directly up the middle. It easily flew a good thirty feet over the left center fielder’s head, allowing me a pretty easy shuffle to third. Three for three, not bad for a cripple.
But onto golf:
I briefly mentioned this event in this story (link) but I wanted to expand upon it this week.
It was now the summer of 1998. We had picked up golf earlier in the late Spring and were trying to get out as often as we could, (given we had a toddler in the house). Mentioned many times, my wife is a natural where it comes to just about anything that requires hand to eye coordination. She’s always in the upper one percent amongst her peers in every sport; golf was no different. She picked it right up. In fact, in the very first summer of play, she got a hole-in-one, an ace! I remember the date very well because we joked about it afterwards as it was the birthday of one of our friends, also with the name of Kim – August 14th.
We had gone to Pleasant Hill Golf in Monroe, Ohio that day. Where we lived in Liberty Township, we were centrally located to several golf courses, Pleasant Hill being one of the closer ones to home. The 4th hole is a short 123 yard par three for the ladies. If I remember this right, she was playing with a Greg Norman Shark brand ball and hit a 6-iron that flew about 120 yards, straight towards the pen and rolling right into the cup. There were two maintenance workers there that day who we had been briefly chatting with so they got to celebrate with us.
This was the same golf course we accidentally got locked up in. We had gone to golf 18 holes there late in the day. Well we must have been the last people on the course and we don’t know how they missed us, especially since our car was all alone sitting in the parking lot, in plain sight. But when we finished up, we noticed that the place was barren. It had a chain link fence and gate that was locked. There was no way out. The only thing I could think to do was to phone the Monroe Police. The lady who answered said that she thought she knew one of the owners so she gave him a call. We waited inside a good hour after finishing our round and finally, someone showed up to unlock the gate. We were not too happy about being locked up, but there was nothing we could do about it other than wait for the Internet to be invented so that I could one day write about it.
Anyway, as soon as she hit the ball, I said – “ooh, that’s gonna’ be a good one”. And when we all saw it go in, I exclaimed – “it went in, you got a hole in one!”
The first thing she did when we got home was to phone my dad. My dad was an extremely good golfer. He was one of those ‘course rats’ who spent all his free time on the golf course as a kid and had been helping us get started on the game that year. My dad carried a zero handicap for many years but had never once gotten an ace. He’d come very close on many occasions but never got to watch one fall in. So when Kim exclaimed to him over the phone, “Bob, I got a hole-in-one just now”, his response was of course very gracious:
“You gotta’ be shittin’ me. I’ve been golfing for 52 years and never once got a hole-in-one”. (My dad was always very eloquent).
Kim went onto to join a few golfing leagues and progressed to carrying a golfing index of 6-9 which puts her up in less than the upper one percent of all women golfers. A few years later, Kim even won a local tournament. I guess you’d say she’s a little better than I am. 😉
Over the years, whether it be with friends or just with another two random players, we’ve golfed with hundreds of people, lots of them good golfers. Most have not had an ace yet both Kim and I have had at least one, (I’ve had two plus a hole-in-three). I’d have to say that there’s a lot of luck that goes into getting a shot to fall into that tiny cup.
My wife and I golf a lot together today, maybe three times per week. I’ve mentioned a few times in my stories that I believe we are each formed by all of the things that have happened to us; our home lives, our schooling, our relationships, even the accidents that happen to us. Who’s to say that my wife and I would still be together had I not broken my leg? Who’s to say that we’d be as happy together as we are had my accident not occurred?
There are plenty of times when my knee is aching that I could feel sorry for myself. Why, oh why, didn’t I listen to my wife on that fateful day? But the self pitying lasts only briefly because soon I come to my senses. Kim loves, absolutely loves to golf. I love, absolutely love my wife and love doing things with my wife; she completes me. Because of a broken leg, I got to watch my wife score an ace and fall in love with the sport in the very first year of golfing. Today, I am enjoying spending hours on end in my retirement with that little girl I spotted as a 14 year old (link). The process of growing up continues.
I’ve left Prytania many years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it. Everything that happens goes into the making of who we are and the growing up never stops.