My mother called the other day to tell me “Your father’s has been hurt.” My 82 year old father still has an aura of indestructibility about him so this came as quite a shock. I immediately pictured him lying in the street after being hit by a car or flat on his back in the kitchen after slipping on a puddle of spilt milk.
“My God,” I said. “What happened?”
“Oh, he was playing baseball and got hit in the mouth,” sighed my mother.
I read in the paper the other day about some old time baseball player who, at 95, was put into a minor league game so he could claim to be the oldest person ever to play baseball.
That puts my father number 2 on the list. He's in a league for players over the age of 70. No one has yet displayed the optimism to start a league for players over the age of 80, but when they do he'll be the first to sign up.
“Put him on,” I said.
“Hello?” He sounded a little guilty.
“What happened?” I asked accusingly. “Couldn’t handle a hot liner?”
“Nah!” he grunted dismissively. “Walked up behind the guy on deck and got hit by his bat. I guess he wasn’t looking.” He paused, and then added proudly, “I chipped a tooth and split my lip.”
“Ouch!” I exclaimed. “What did you do?”
“Oh, I went two for four with a walk and 3 RBIs.”
“I mean did you go to the hospital?”
“Yeah, after the game. Got a tetanus shot. Man, that hurt!”
“You mean you finished the game with a bloody lip?”
“I was due up third." He sounded offended. "I’m not like these players today - take a day off just because they have a sore back or something. Heck, when I’m out there I hurt from head to toe and I don’t let it stop me.”
“Players today are a bunch of wimps!” I said, getting into the spirit of his outrage. “’What’s the matter?'," I mocked an imaginary millionaire major leaguer. "'Did you hurt your knee?’”
“Let me kiss it with my bloody lip!” added my dad.
We had a good laugh over that one.
I have to admire my dad. He's one of these "Greatest Generation" guys. You know, they grew up in the Depression then they won World War II.
But that is just a part of their greatness.
I think what really makes them great is something more basic than that.
They aren't afraid to play hurt.