Last Monday night, a book group came over to the house. Not my book group, though. So I made myself scarce with plans for a wild night out on the town. First stop: CVS, where I purchased some glucosamine and chondroitin among other supplies needed for my middle-aged lifestyle. That errand completed, I sought even more fun. A movie? “The Ghost Writer” sounded appealing, but I had missed the early showing at the only nearby theater running the film, and the second show, just before 10, was too late for the my middle-aged lifestyle. I had a book with me and thought about going over to a restaurant that serves good small salads and what they call a Portuguese sandwich–salt cod and some tasty tomato-based spread on thick toast. I could sit there, have a glass or red wine and modest dinner and read. I drove by, but the place is closed on Mondays. I rolled past a couple other restaurants but was not tempted to stop.
By that time, I was near San Pablo Park where I used to play night softball games. I thought I’d drive by and see if I knew any of the teams that were out there playing. I checked out one game on a baseball-sized diamond. I recognized the umpire–someone who had been a decent player and who was OK when he started calling games–but no one else. I’ve thought about going back and playing sometimes, and I saw nothing in the play on the field–there were lots of balls hit in the air–that made me think I’d be too physically out of place. But I have to admit it didn’t look like a whole lot of fun. It was the late game of the evening and the plate umpire was running everybody in and out of the dugouts pretty fast and calling strikes that looked strange even given the weird strike zone in slow-pitch softball. He was just moving the game along. I took a few pictures, then strolled across the park to the next diamond.
At first glance, I didn’t recognize anyone in the second game, either. But at a distance something about one of the pitchers seemed familiar. And was: He turned out to be one of my teammates from the very first Berkeley team I played on, back in 1979. I hung around an inning or two and watched him pitch and hit. He did OK, even though I didn’t entirely approve of his team’s uniform shirts, which carried the players’ names on the back, a fussy and over-serious touch for a Berkeley league game. It was getting cold at the park, and I got a call that the book group had hit the road. I almost said hi to my old teammate, and then I headed home.