I’m no Ken Buns. I played Little League; had tops maybe thirty baseball cards. My favorite player was Willie Mays. I finished my last season riding the bench a good  portion of the time. I was good enough to start, but my parents did not give a crap, and neither did I, so I played when Lenny played me, and that was fine with me. I played infield, outfield, left field, and catcher. 

         I was no stand out, and did not want to. ECT ( early childhood trauma) had left me nearly a zombie; concussions...abuse, neglect, fear. I was ok where ever I was put. There was never anyone to explain trauma, there was never any one to talk about it to. 

          I was not a victim, or exceptional for a fourth child; third son. I decided not to play after Little Leage. I did not like the way kids got picked on after an error or strike out by their own team mates. I hated getting picked on, and all the pressure to perform as coached. Baseball, organized, was just not fun. 

          There were rules. There were umpires who got paid to make the calls. There were parents obsessed with their child’s performance, and then there were mean kids. 

          I was playing baseball after I learned how to swim, and before I learned how to row or ride a bike. I became a decent oarsman, sailor, and paddler;  all of which I preferred to playing organized baseball. 

          Killing fish for fun ended after I did it for money, I was haunted by blue fish...murdered in my lap. Like getting hit in the head with the baseball bat catching, I got over it. I changed positions and moved on.

           There was always a survivor hidden under the zombie like trance that I moved about in after each unresolved trauma. A cycle that I did not understand ...trauma, shut down, partial recovery, trauma. Nobody noticed, or If they did, thought that I should know. 

             Partial recovery...should not be confused with recovery. Childhood trauma recovery response is learned, or transferred. Behavior indicates past trauma...mental, physical, emotional. 

              Before I was killing fish professionally I was properly trained to row...reach, draw, rest, recover; The four parts of a single stroke. Rowing was once a big sport at Rutgers. I never was in their boathouse on the Raritan. I never saw a Rutgers baseball or even football game over the decades it took me to finish night school...the one they made for WWII veterans. 

               I did make it to one collegiate boat house; it was the Naval Academy; I delivered parts. I was impressed, but too busy to process partial recovery, before the next traumatic event transpired. Eventually self medication and understanding companionship became wrapped up in the cycle, but all of this was beyond my comprehension. 

                The company had a softball team. I played one game. My first at bat I hit a long triple left center. If I had not pulled a hamstring muscle on the way to first it would have been a home run.  

                 I got into the rowing business after that. My bench riding days were over, but I realized that I could really hit, and remembered that I always could. I soon forgot that I had remembered, but knew that I would again remember, because I always had a partial recovery. I could hit but, hated the ragging, more than I liked seeing that ball fly deep. I remembered all the way back to cap league, when I hit my first long ball, a solid double...I hesitated at second, but was coached to third, and tagged out. I did not take it well. I was fine with a double. I hit singles after that, easily getting on. I remembered why, and then forgot. I forgot the rowing business too. 

                  I became a Yankee fan. I invented the Yankee Hankey, a pin stripped snot rag. Nobody knows, even I forgot. I forgot but never forgot how to row. It’s like riding a bike. Murderer’s Row was before my time as a Yankee fan. I like the Giants better...Willie Mays and all that. I had a Willie Mays card, it took me a few tries to get that one, it was the only one I wanted. I forgot what happened to my thirty cards, with the rubber band around them. I had all my stuff in an empty record player case. It was not much, but long gone. 

                  I’ve got time to remember now, a long partial recovery;  a major league recovery, my golden year, maybe two. Writing history, not driving, no slush or snow. I just remembered to take a breath, and then the miracle of consciousness. I’m back. Raytheon5. 




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Comment by Maui Surfer on April 15, 2019 at 12:58pm

So very insightful; an excellent piece, bravo!

A reminder why I abandoned a "promising" collegiate athletics career for the solo sport of surfing full time. The remembrance?- the politics and parent/alumni aspect of who got in when, and where ... instead of going only for the win, supposedly the point of it all, and the one those with active parental units supposedly all reflexively gag out the mantra on command for, win win win ... how will that be accomplished without the best hands on the field??? It will not, better luck next year.

An amazing feeling, to be able to swing hard, and to watch a tiny ball clear a fence, the outfielder throwing his glove to the ground, cursing his inability to fly high enough to catch a fly. But, this feeling was rare indeed, not many of us are Ruth or Aaron, or Mays as you so adroitly add, when I can, on my own, with the help of nada, get that feeling on a big wave and have it last all day, the same only better, and receive accolades from those on shore, who belong to no official fan club, they are there by their own accordance, for the most part anyway.

Mays was a hero to me, on the field, it was obvious, this guy was BETTER than the rest ... off the field, he warned us, in wonderful African American diction, on TV no less, "These are blasting caps, do not touch them- you could lose an arm, or a leg."

Thank you Willie for a Public Service Announcement extraordinaire ...

Comment by koshersalaami on April 15, 2019 at 6:52pm

I saw Willie play once, at Shea. Giants beat the Mets. Sometime in the sixties. Very casual player. As my uncle said,  “makes it look easy.” 

Comment by Robert B. James on April 15, 2019 at 10:22pm

Thanks for reading and commenting!

MS...I enjoy watching surfing. I’ve never been better than ok at anything, but I’ve been ok at a a lot of things. I never saw Willie do the blasting caps bit.

Kosh: What a memory!  I saw the Mets play once, and can’t remember a thing about it. I did get to a World Series game in Philadelphia once, and Yanke Play Off game vs Boston; Pete Rose...I remember Pete Rose. 

My most memorable sporting event was sitting in the Presidents box at a Navy Norte Dame game. Navy got murdered. I was twelve. 

Comment by J.P. Hart on April 16, 2019 at 7:18am

Say Hey! One less place to pray, that fortress strong in shambles, temporarily lost yet free. I might get there, with my bucket of burgundy.

Sure I was there that April 30, Ninety Sixty-One. Willie Mays ("When I'm not hitting, I don't hit nobody. But, when I'm hitting, I hit anybody." - Willie Mays) never forgetting when homerun #4 left already just over the rail maybe 4-5 rows above Aaron at the right field wall....Sunbleached, only 11 and 10, just boys yelling was that another one...look...yeah! The crowd rose roared whooped and cheered, a unified chant and aisle dance: SAY HEY SAY HEY SAY HEY. And Mr. Mays rounds third base waving his SF cap--that full stride prance...a never-ending frolic in our dance.

And June is how far now RBJ? Will there be continued rejection? A 'very best' short story collection? Easy to tune in L0 ;} what to leave in what to leave out...

Comment by Robert B. James on April 16, 2019 at 8:13am

To please or not to please, that is the question. We both know who the Dr. Is, and if the psysician heals or if pigs can fly, with or without wings. I say Rhode show every day, matinee only. That’s just me trying on a golden year, halftiming it, but fully prepared to do even less.  

I say leave it to beaver, because crows know, and old crows are not rooks, small ravens or Poe’s creation. Morse Pecked “What hath God wrought” and kept on dotting and dashing...ditties, free of reMorse?  

We got movies being made, crows know, little cameras in their little crows eyes. Caw, caw, they cry? Or call, for all,of us who know or knew why Cash wore black, and how to dance on bare earth, just to say hey to mom. 

I’d say shoes off, and wade in cold spring seas, mingling with eternity, but I am just a master, not THE Dr.  Kinney was the PhD for the MIC. Who made us chirp like hungry baby robins, as the crows swooped in for a quick bite ? I jumped early and stayed on the ground, where I still roam, flying economy, if I fly at all. 

Comment by J.P. Hart on April 16, 2019 at 8:32am

Hell wise their always trouble? Children of rumble...an insurmountable stewdant(e) loan bubble...so where's catch-22, wind in her hair?
What's it already? Quantum Physics as a 2nd language? Slowed motion the oughts unraveled...roads less traveled...the Clinton surplus one coin at a time, final eternal song

kingston trio where have all the flowers gone


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