Softball season kicked off last week; I'm playing on a new team this year, and our first game didn't go quite as well as we'd hoped. We lost a real heartbreaker -- the final was 27-6, I think. I suppose that's less of a 'heart-breaker' and more of a 'heart-grinding-into-a-fine-powder-and-stomping-on-repeatedly-er'. Our remarkable lack of run-scoring ability is not the point, though.
At least, I hope it isn't. Because that would be depressing.
To congratulate ourselves on successfully completing a game without major injury, we adjourned to a local bartending and grille concern for food and adult beverages. And that's where I learned that things weren't always this way. Just last year, the team had quite a bit of success. Much of that success seemed to be directly attributable to a guy who wasn't able to play this season. His name is Bob. I heard a lot about Bob at the bar that night. A lot. And the more I heard about Bob and his exploits on the softball field, the more I was reminded of another figure of legend: Bill Brasky.
"A well-trained dog could hit a double in slow-pitch. I don't care if Randy Johnson went back in time and had a three-way love child with Cy Young and Bob Feller, and that kid was on the mound."
There were three guys doing most of the talking about this 'Bob' fellow, and the saga of his prowess grew with each turn they took. Only they didn't seem to realize exactly how epic the story was getting. It went something like this:
Guy #1: Well, our pitching was a little rough tonight. Hey -- remember when Bob used to pitch?
Guy #2: Oh yeah! Man, Bob could put it anywhere he wanted.
Guy #3: Every single pitch a strike. I don't think he threw a ball all season.
Guy #1: Yeah, and he'd work it in and out, high and low. The guy's an artist.
Guy #2: I don't think Albert Pujols could hit him! He's a monster!
(To be clear, this is slow-pitch softball we're talking about here. A well-trained dog could hit a double in slow-pitch. I don't care if Randy Johnson went back in time and had a three-way love child with Cy Young and Bob Feller, and that kid was on the mound. It's sloooooow pitch. The pitches come in underhanded, eight feet tall and at around twelve miles an hour. You're not going to fool anyone with a 'baffler' out there.
The hyperbole continued, unabated.
Guy #3: Hey, remember when he struck out the side in that one game?
Guy #1: The side, hell. By the third inning, I was reading a book out in left field.
Guy #2: Bob's a helluva pitcher, all right. And can the guy ever hit!
Guy #3: Power to all fields!
Guy #1: He hit the longest home run I've ever seen! Fenway wouldn't have held it!
Guy #2: Remember that game where they kept telling the center fielder to back up?
Guy #3: Yeah! The guy was standing in the parking lot by the time he stopped.
Guy #1: Bob didn't care -- he said, 'I'm hitting it over him, anyway.'
Guy #2: And then he DID IT.
Guy #3: That ball smacked a Toyota and ricocheted into the street -- I bet it's still rolling.
They were dead serious. And maybe all those things happened, just exactly the way they said. But I couldn't help myself. I like a good tall tale as much as the next guy, and this one looked like fun. So I waited for a lull and jumped in.
Guy #2: Best softball hitter I've ever seen, that Bob.
Guy #3: Yeah, he's one hell of a player.
Me:: Bob once hit a ball so high, he rounded the bases before it came down.
Guy #1: Yeah, I... wait, what?
Me: Nobody would stand under it to catch it -- when it fell, it sunk four feet into the infield dirt.
Guy #2: I don't think I remember that.
Me: Bob hit an opposing third baseman with a wicked line drive once, right in the groin.
Guy #3: He did what, now? When wa-
Me: Turns out the guy had undiagnosed testicular cancer. Bob knocked it right out of him. True story!
Guy #1: I don't know if... hey, do you even know Bob?
Me: Bob? Big Bob? Rock-em sock-em, pop-'n'-lock 'em Bob? Do I know Bob, you're asking?
Guy #1: Yeah. You know him?
Me: Nah. Never met the guy. But still.
Guy #2: Still what?
Me: Best damned softball player ever!
All: Yeah! To Bob!
Me: Pitches like Nolan Ryan!
Me: Socks the ball like Babe Ruth!
All: Big-hittin' Bob!
Me: Cures ball cancer with one swing of the bat!
Guy #2: Don't push it, new guy.
Me: Sorry. Yaaaay, Bob.
So that's Bob, apparently. Larger than life, hitter and pitcher extraordinaire, and the savior of an entire softball team.
And he's not playing this season. So we're very likely going to get the shit cleated out of us in all the other games, just like the last one.
Maybe we can get Bill Brasky to take his place. I hear that guy's pretty good at stuff. Sure, he's no Bob. But who is, really? Nobody's better than Bob. Ask anyone.