~ A series about first-time events in my life, in response to the Writers of Kern blog challenge
My writing club, Writers of Kern, issued a month-long blog challenge that begins today. Bloggers need to post on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Part two of the test is that we read and comment on the blogs that fellow club members post.
For this challenge, I decided on the theme of “firsts.” So these next eight blogposts will be memoir pieces, some recent and some from long ago. Feel free to comment and share your memories, too.
Sitting in the stands or glued to the television, we’ve watched as presidents, mayors, and celebrities throw out the first pitch of the baseball season. I always thought Okay. Big deal. Then, I had the chance to experience what a big deal it was.
Our friend and Relay for Life captain Scottie called one day to ask if we’d show up the next Friday night for Cal State University, Bakersfield’s Relay for Life Night at Hardt Field. “They want to honor survivors, so it would be nice to have a few out there,” Scottie had said. Thinking that we’d be out there supporting Scottie as she threw out the first pitch, Judy and I agreed. We dug out our 2012 purple survivor shirts.
The chipper CSUB cheerleader captain, Lizet, greeted us. She is also the captain of the student athletes’ Relay for Life team and organized the survivor-honoring event. As a manager gathered our personal information, we discovered that things wouldn’t be exactly like we’d thought. All three of us would be on the field, simultaneously throwing baseballs to three CSUB catchers, right after the National Anthem. When is the last time I threw a baseball? I wondered. It must be nearly 40 years ago.
Lizet escorted us down to the playing field, where we met two of the coaches and the National Anthem singer. A slight breeze blew as the players, some already in their pink shirts, warmed up on the diamond and on the sidelines. Judy and Scottie tossed a ball back and forth. I just held onto one, trying to get the feel of the sphere in muscle memory.
Ricky, one of the coaches, introduced himself and told us where to stand when it was time. As soon as the singer finished, we three strode out to a spot about two-thirds of the way from home plate to the pitcher’s mound. The announcer’s voice boomed above, “Scottie, an 11-year breast cancer survivor; Judy, a five-year skin cancer survivor; and Annis, a four-year breast cancer survivor.” We heard enthusiastic applause from the spectators.
I was good until I watched my catcher squat, thus lowering my target. I prayed I could make the ball reach him. Nearly synchronized, Scottie, Judy and I drew back our arms and let our baseballs fly. Though my throw was low, my long-armed catcher snagged it and made me look good. All three of us hit our marks. Roaring applause and cheers exploded from the stands.
The catchers stood up and walked forward to congratulate us. Each one presented us with a brand new ball that had been autographed by the whole team. As we turned to leave the field, we saw all the players in a line, waiting to give us a handshake or a hug. That filled my heart. We don’t always think of college-aged sports teams and compassion in the same sentence. But, these kind young men showed us they cared.
Ah, throwing out the first pitch. It was, indeed, a big deal. Thanks to the young men and women of CSUB, I have another “first” for my memory bank.
~ xoA ~