“More of a jokefest”
Big Al and I drove down to Clear Lake last week to watch the other two brothers play in the next to the last game of the season. It’s a slow-pitch softball league for Old Timers. I don’t believe they call it “Old Timers League” but they might as well.
Dennis and Larry’s team is four wins ahead in league play. That means the outcome of their last two games means squat. They played like it, too. Dennis probably has the highest batting average in the league, but it sure didn’t show this time. He hit nothing but slow grounders. Larry didn’t fare any better.
They didn’t look too good in the field, either. Larry had one good play when the ball hit his foot and rolled to the guy covering second base for a force out. The crowd went wild. Big Al and I were the crowd.
Old Timer softball is not that big a draw… even for the wives. Especially for the wives. Plus, it was way hot out there. I’m thinking 120 degrees. It was so hot that the umpire ordered Al and me to get out of the heat and go sit in the dugout. Never heard of an umpire benching spectators. We put up little fight.
In the dugout I struck up a conversation with guy from another team. No idea why he was there. Anyway, je pointed to one of the players in the infield. “You see that shortstop out there?” he said. “That guy can hit. He’s knocked three over the fence.”
The shortstop was Dennis. He has never knocked a ball over the fence in his life. None of the brothers have. But, apparently, someone saw Dennis hit a long fly once, and embellished a bit. He told a friend who told a friend… Low and behold, Dennis is now a Long Knocker. That’s what they call homerun hitters in the Old Timers League. “Long Knockers.” I’m not making that up.
After the pathetic loss, we all went for barbecue at the Chop Block in Pasadena. Restaurant reviewer Brad Meyer wasn’t with me, so I got to enjoy the meal.
At some point during the chowdown, I asked the brothers if they knew of any plans for their Fathers Day. I’m the only childless brother, so I didn’t really care. Just making conversation. Turns out, they didn’t care either. Not a one of ‘em was even aware of Fathers Day.
The only good thing that came from my question was the fact that it started up stories about Dad. The last time I ever saw my dad, the four brothers were playing in a softball tournament at Memorial Park. The Hayter boys were the infield. Last inning of the game; we’re in the field. One out and runners on first and third. We’re up by one run.
The batter smashed a grounded to third. I scooped it up, threw it to Dennis at second who relayed it to Larry at first. Double play. We win!
After all the glad handing, I called Dad to tell him about it. He and Mom decided to drive out and watch our next game… a game we lost badly.
At the time, I really regretted calling Dad. I hated that he and Mom drove all the way out to watch us get trounced. But, Dad didn’t mind. After the game he laughed and joked with us. That was the last memory I have of my Dad. He died of a heart attack just a few weeks later. But, my last memory of him was of him laughing and cutting up with my brothers and me. I’ve long since considered the moment a true blessing.
Same with Al calling me to go to the ballpark to watch Dennis and Larry. On this occasion I was glad that Dad wasn’t alive to see his sons really stink up the place. Big Al really let ‘em have it, too. He almost had Dennis and Larry in tears. -- I may be exaggerating a bit. It was more of a jokefest with the brothers. Another blessing.