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By Laurence J. Sasso, Jr.
A little bit over-prepared, you might say?
August is the heart of the men’s over-35 softball season; just the right time for this reflection.
A few years back, there was a softball player here in town who attained mini-legend status with his teammates. Oh, it wasn’t for his prowess on the diamond, although he had just enough of that to do his part. It was for another reason, and it wasn’t something that earned him accolades. No, on the contrary, it was for traits that made him particularly razz-worthy.
His equipment bag told the story. Bigger and heavier than just about anyone else’s, it was a wonder to behold (once he laboriously dragged it from his car to the dugout).
You see, although this player never got beyond the Tenderfoot rank in Boy Scouts, he internalized the organization’s Be Prepared motto more completely than all the rest of the troop put together.
As he sat down on the bench to begin getting ready for a game, he would unzip his Winnebago-sized bag and start removing equipment to assemble for the action ahead. He decided which one of four first baseman’s mitts and/or an outfielder’s glove he would be using that day. Then he would spread out three or four sets of wrist bands and pick the ones to wear.
Shuffling through the contents of the bag, he would push aside the set of back-up spikes he always carried, and he would move several extra pairs of stirrup hose. He also stocked at least three, possibly four batting gloves from among which he would select that day’s choice.
Impressive readiness, you’re thinking? Or, is it evidence of a slightly more worrisome psychological quirk? Wait! Don’t decide yet! There’s more!
Somewhere in the mass of stuff in the belly of the leather bag there was a back-up pair of softball pants as well as a second team shirt. Oh, and there was a reserve hat with the team logo on it.
Even though the club had a canvas bag full of old softballs for batting practice and for warm-up tossing before the games, our ever-ready guy brought along half a dozen softballs of his own, just in case anybody needed one for the pre-game throw around. (Surprisingly, they often did.)
He also had an extra belt, in case he broke his while taking a round-house swing. In addition, in his kit he had sun-glasses, Tums (after all, these were Sunday morning games, and they might occur after an over-indulgent Saturday night), sun screen (which he rarely used), two or three bottles of glove oil, extra laces for his shoes, Band-Aids, and when he remembered, a roll of toilet paper.
Also, there was a can of corn niblets, which he brought out occasionally at appropriate moments. Softball players and aficionados reading this will know that lots of their cohorts call an easy-to-catch pop-up a “can of corn.” When that cheer for an inning-ending fly ball was in order, our guy was ready to brandish his own real sample of same.
Then there were the bats. The oversized, tattered, bulging Rawlings bag, had a separate pocket for bats that ran the length of its back. Inside he always had six aluminum war clubs of varying weights and thickness, three of which he hadn’t used for the better part of a decade, but which he always took to the park just in case he might want to employ one of them. The bats alone rendered the bag incredibly heavy. Include the rest of the assorted gear, and it all made the conglomeration ridiculous to try and heft. Several of his teammates, whose equipment totes were half the size, had rollers on their bags. His, on the other hand, should have come with a wheelbarrow attached.
Off the field. He was different. Well, a little.
Those who ever visited his office might have observed that atop a two-drawer file cabinet there was a leaning stack of takeout trays from the donut shop that was as tall as a jockey. His desk surface was not anything like an aircraft carrier deck cleared to receive a squadron of planes, either. Think, instead, the polar opposite.
His person was somewhat troubling too. His inside jacket pockets usually contained half a dozen pens and mechanical pencils, his checkbook, postage stamps, and a pad of sticky notes. In his pants pockets there were as many keys as might dangle from the belt of a custodian for a high rise apartment building. Elsewhere among his effects he lugged stuff like cough drops, nasal spray, notebooks, coupons, antacids, Tylenol, a nail clipper, and a couple of handkerchiefs.
One very good friend, famously told him that it would take 20 minutes to mug him because he carried so much stuff in his pockets. His car was no paragon of neatness either, but enough is enough.
How do I know so much about this fellow, you might ask. Okay, Okay. . . I give up. It is I. All right? I confess. He is me. I am he. There, I said it.
By the way, did I mention that I have three different laptops, a desktop computer, a tablet, and a smart phone, and that my favorite shirts have two oversized pockets? I also have a jacket with 16 pockets. I’m looking for one with 20. Help me! Please!