If you really want to enjoy some baseball magic, join Big Apple Softball — the gay and lesbian league in NYC. It’s the wonderful collision of stereotypes, norms, social identities, and just pure fun. First of all, just getting called “out”is an oxymoron. But there’s more. I mean, think about it…
You have the guys who were closeted, hard core jocks their whole growing up years — possibly well into adulthood — slapping each other on the ass, talking smack about the cheerleading squad, all the while wishing they could just make out with the team captain (unless they WERE the team captain). Then you have the other extreme — my experience (save those golden moments created by Mike and Russ) — where you simply suck at it, are constantly self-conscious, but seriously crave the comraderie supplied by the locker room bonding, team victories, and feeling comfortable in your own skin. Oh, and yes, also wishing you could make out with the team captain. And then you have those lucky ducks smack in the middle of the spectrum who were simply well-adjusted, oblivious to the term “self-loathing,” and never really cared about a pecking order or social strata through their formative years. And these guys DID make out with the team captain, and somehow lived to tell about it.
Personify these experiences and histories, put them on the field together to play in one of the most competitive rec leagues I’ve ever experienced, and you’re in for a wild ride. A glorious, wild ride! Every player on the field is finally getting his due: the chance to play ball without any of the emotional baggage and peer pressure that cut him off at the knees before he came out. Now the real love of the game shines through.
I played in Big Apple’s DIMA division, for the elite level players. I know, I know. Based on my previous posts and personal history with the sport, how could that possibly have possibly? Baseball magic, baby. Baseball magic. I had a great try-out (yes, I had to try-out) and nailed my hitting, infielding and outfielding. The rest was Big Apple Softball history. I made the team. I was playing catcher on The Warriors! Talk about coming full circle, right? Catcher. The boys on Gerdes Turd Farms would be proud!
These guys — and girl (Roberta would be proud) — on The Warriors were great. I lived for the weekends, the games, the tournaments, all of it. I played two seasons, and then my work schedule and heavy volleyball schedule started getting to be too much to juggle. Since I could play volleyball 3 – 4 times a week, and softball only once a week, I opted for the former, but really missed playing with the team. I don’t think we were necessarily as rag tag as the kids from Greenberg Junction in The Baseball Box Prophecy (our team consisted of an opera singer, a psychiatrist, an accountant, a salesman, a PR account lead, and a graphic designer, to name a few) but we definitely shared the love of the game those kids did. And still do.