Monday, March 30, 2009
It was a gorgeous day for a competitive kickball game. The 6th graders did not have specials on this particular day and the entire 6th grade had the opportunity to engage in a classic boys versus girls kickball affair. The first task at hand Mr. Waagner informs me to line the boys up from shortest to tallest eliminating any chaos in the batting order. The fans, media, and myself included could not have predicted the events that would transpire later on in the game between the two sides including myself.
Mr. Iannone was pitching his world renowned triple bounce over the plate brush the batter down heater with a little mustard on it. Mr. Iannone has a lifetime ERA of 2.23 and over 342 victories. Mr. Iannone's kickball numbers compare only to Sandy Koufax. Mr. Iannone was striking people out left and right showing us the flashbacks on his glory days that seem like they were just yesterday. Mr. Iannone was showing the rocket off on the base path left and right. The fans even had the pleasure of seeing the long but not forgotten Mr. Iannone double fist pump point to the sky. The hustle, fight, and hunger in the eyes of Mr. Iannone was a scene that had to be witnessed within the stadium that day to understand what it was all about.
Mr. Waagner and myself were having a grand old time managing both sides making sure the right batters were stepping up to the plate. The performance the kids were giving us on top of the effort Mr. Iannone was giving us was worth every cent of the admission ticket. I am in the sun relaxing with Mr. Waagner wearing my freshly pressed dockers, a tie, and looking dapper for the parent teacher conferences that would be taking place in the afternoon lasting into the early evening. What could potentially go wrong at this point in the story.
At the same time of enjoying this monumental battle we were also worried for the well being of Mr. Iannone. On a routine pop up Mr. Iannone sprinted from the pitchers mound to catch a pop up in foul territory and turn the 1-3 unassisted double play. The run alone had to be a good 30 feet topped with a near collision with Jorge. I was having a ball laughing my head off telling my mentor to slow it down because we need you teaching the rest of the year. Once he stepped between the lines he was no longer Mr. Iannone he was the man of his youth.
A few innings have come and gone and both teams are playing to a standstill thanks to superb play in the field from both sides. This is where the story takes a dramatic turn for the worst. With Hannah aka Kicks on second base I decide that I need to redeem myself after my first at bat was a weak dribbler down the third base line. I stroll to the plate and I can see the fear in the eyes of the 6th grade boys as they begin to retreat. Mr. Iannone gives me the nod as he knows to take a little mustard off and paint the outside of the plate with a double bouncer. I can hear my theme music blaring over the P.A. as if I were playing at Fenway Park.
I give a point to right center field to call my shot just like Babe Ruth. I size up the pitch and I get a hold of it and I know no matter what this is going to be a home run to win the game. I just see ball sail like it is on a flight path leaving Sky Harbor International Airport for Logan International Airport in Boston (thank you for flying and come again) and all I am seeing is the back of the heads of all of the boys chasing the ball. It has been a while since I have played kickball so keep that in mind at this point I am about to turn the jets on and really kick the wheels into high gear. As you get older it you slowly begin to realize that switch is not automatic as it once use to be. I touch the inside of the bag with my left foot creating an awkward turn heading into second and than all of a sudden I was DOWN. I literally felt like I stepped into quick sand. I was down like just like when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in Lewiston, Maine (my home state). The presence of Muhammad Ali standing over Liston is just what I felt like with all of the eyes of the 6th graders looking for at me wondering what I will do next. It was as if time had stopped and I was in the zone for that split moment. I looked over and saw Mr. Waagner in hysterics on the ground laughing, the ball still rolling, the sun at a 63 degree angle, three birds singing a rendition of Hey Jude (post Beatles version), Mr. Iannone screaming "GET HIM", and at that moment in time I had to make a decision. Was I going to lay on the ground like Sonny Liston after that knockout blow from Ali or was I going to stand up and fight back. So many emotions are running through my mind at this point in time and it all happened so fast. My hand was ripped up, my elbow was scratched, my pride was without a doubt wounded, and I know there would be no shame in just crawling back to the first base in the dirt.
Unlike Liston I made a quick check for my phone making sure it was still in my pocket and I got on my high horse and rode the bases like I was Paul Revere on his midnight ride. The adrenaline was pumping and I was moving. The pain did not really set in until I crossed home plate and looked down at my hand. Mr. Waagner was able to control his laughs to the point that he offered me his water bottle to clean the wounds. I was DOWN, but I got back up. It was a long embarrassing walk back to class as I was still trying to brush myself off and than all of a sudden a bigger reality began to set in. I still had two classes to teach teach. As I am trying to get the 6th period settled into the learning I am using all of Mr. Iannone's bandages to cover my wounds. The life long learning that took place on this particular day was: First) Do not make fun of Mr. Iannone Second) Be extremely careful when playing kickball in loafers.
The girls team prevailed and I hope they learned one thing from Mr. Lane's spill. Always "Play Like a Champion."
Posted by Heart of Gold Band at 9:30 AM