Thursday, April 15, 2010
The time I saved the day in Vietnam
On the softball field. I worked in the headquarters of the 79th Maintenance Battalion in Long Binh. Some of the athletically-inclined soldiers in my unit played softball against teams from other units. One day a game was scheduled with another unit, the team was loading up to go play and discovered one of the players was missing. I was still piddling around in the building and one of the men on the softball team rushed in, looking for a live, breathing body - any body - to avoid a forfeit of the game due to not having nine players. I wasn't a softball player and wasn't really interested in the whole deal. Still, they grabbed me and hauled me along to the game. I was sent to the place where I was likely to do the least damage, left field. I had no glove as the regular players brought their own. I was cannon fodder, a body being used to plug a hole in the line. After a couple of innings, I was standing out in left field, watching the birds fly across the sky when I heard a commotion and a lot of people yelling at me. I shifted my gaze to the game and noticed the ball was aloft in a high fly coming right at me. I put my hands up in a defensive gesture and the ball fell right into my bare hand and by some miracle didn't fall out onto the ground. As it happened, the opposing team had men on base and two outs. My astonished would-be team mates were pleased with my unexpected and accidental performance. After that, I commanded a little more respect from the softball players.