Greg’s father coached sports in the local schools. One summer day a group of us wanted a pickup baseball game and the guy who usually brought the bats and balls was not around. Greg said ‘I can get what we need’ and went back to his house. He brought over a big black canvas bag with the baseball gear his Dad would bring to games he was coaching. Though a year or so younger than the rest of us he lugged that big bag over to the field, dropped it down and opened it up.
Inside the bag were, catcher’s gloves, first baseman’s gloves, fielder’s gloves, hardballs, softballs and these extra large softballs. Never having seen a ball with baseball stitching that was bigger than a softball we asked him what are these? He said ‘they are blooperballs.’
I was thinking: children play whiffle ball, with a plastic bat and plastic ball, girls play softball with the big ball and underhand pitching, that anyone can hit, and men play hardball or baseball. I asked who plays blooperball? He said grownups play it.
We then start getting the bats out of the bag, there was a good selection of baseball bats, all weights and lengths. We come to the softball bats, and thew them aside. I never understood why a softball bat was smaller than a baseball bat, considering softballs are bigger than baseballs.
Finally we come to a small wooden bat, it was a weird looking bat, obviously not a toy, but smaller than any wooden bat we’d seen before. We ask what is this? Greg says it’s the blooperball bat. One of the older kids says ‘that’s not a bat, it’s a butt wipe’. It seemed like a good description to me, any grownups who were going to play blooperball would probably want to use some ridiculous bat as well.
When a batter would come up and choose which bat to use, one of the insults the fielders would shout was ‘use the butt wipe’.
Next spring while riding my bike around the grade school I see Greg’s Dad coaching a game with a bunch of children. I rode over to have a closer look and see they are playing T-Ball. I had heard of T-Ball but never had seen it. I got off the bike and went over behind the backstop. A kid is at the plate hits the ball and the pitcher fields the ball and threw the batter out at first. I thought that was a feeble hit. When the next batter got up to bat I started mocking him. He got on base, so I waited for the next batter to start making fun of him.
The young players were getting agitated with the older boy making fun of them. Greg’s Dad got them to finish the inning and then asked if I would like to come up and bat. I thought ‘oh great Ill show these kids how the game should be played’. The catcher dropped the ball into the T, I grabbed a bat and, stepped up the plate. Looking at the T, it felt weird, ball isn’t moving, I asked myself ‘do you step into this?’ I took a hard swing, hit a foul, and thought to myself, nothing wrong with a foul, but I must not have connected well with the ball, no distance.
The catcher dropped the ball in the T again and I took a close look at. I thought I’ll swing a little lower to see if I can get more power on the ball. Aiming lower I took another hard swing, Clang, the ball dropped onto the ground, I had squarely hit the T, Strike 2.
Once again the catcher drops the ball into the T. I looked at even closer, and thought the cup at the top of the T covers too much of the ball. No wonder I couldn’t get a clean hit, only 2/3 of the ball is sitting above the cup. I thought the butt wipe was the only bat that would enable a clean swing at the ball without any contact with the cup or T. But this wasn’t blooperball.
I calmed myself down, and thought aim higher and I won’t hit the T. I amied higher and swung, phhhht, air, a clean miss, Strike 3.
Humiliated, I walked back to my bike, and looked at Greg’s Dad. He looked at me as though to say ‘it is never as easy as you may think’ and shouted ‘Batter Up’.