I love baseball. Especially night games. There is nothing quite as beautiful as a stadium lit up against a clear mid summer night sky. Some love the neon lights of Broadway, some the expanse of the New York City skyline. Give me, the ballpark lights.
There were no such lights at Honeyhill School field. To be honest this was quite a pitiful ball field. No lush green grass and well marked lines from base to base. It looked to be forgotten by the Norwalk Parks and Rec department. Didn’t matter. It was my happy place. Knowing I had become quite the baseball fan, my brother´s coach asked if I would like to be his team’s scorekeeper. I was to sit close the bench (sigh) and keep score. Each team needed a scorekeeper because there were all kinds of rules about making sure participants played a certain number of innings. The score keeping would allow the coach to calculate batting averages and ERA. I was delighted. So was my dad. I was officially a baseball fanatic like him. He had taught me at a Mets game how to keep score. Each of the nine players on the field had a number. The pitcher was 1, the catcher 2 and so on. To record an infield grounder to the shortstop I simply recorded 6-3. Shortstop to first baseman for the out. A pop fly to center field- an 8 with a circle around it. It was a special cryptic language. It didn’t matter that it was quite easy. The tricky and somewhat controversial part was that I decided if the batter got on base with a single or due to an opposing player’s error. Everyone had an opinion, and soon I found myself in the uncomfortable position of telling a player that he didn’t hit a double, rather a single with an error to a sticky fingered right fielder who bobbled the ball. I felt quite confident in my ability to make such important decisions. I am now part of the team, my folding chair safely behind the bench as to avoid errant foul balls.
My new position provided me with a reason to interact with the guys on the team. Mr. Corbo would ask the boys to let me know when they were coming in the game.
Also, they would ask me, me! if they got a hit. Sometimes they would just shrug if they didn’t like the answer. Others would feign anger, saying “You robbed me!” Only a few would disagree, annoyed that a girl got to make such relevant decisions. My brother, Bob, of course, would get downright angry if he didn’t like my call and would continue to rib me about it long after the game was over. I secretly think he liked that his sister was the team scorekeeper. On at least one occasion, he bullied me into changing my decision.
At some of the games, I moved to the bleachers and sat with the small crowd. I enjoyed a camaraderie that I did not know in any other setting. “Liz, how many outs?” “What’s the score?” I always knew the answer.