Kicking a red, rubber ball
Happy Monday morning, Columbus.
As I walked to my car the other day, I saw a few teams playing kickball at McFerson Commons in the Arena District.
And for a moment, I was transported back in time to when I was an adult kickball player.
At some point in time, someone somewhere in America decided that adults should play kickball. Teams were created, leagues were formed and games were played after work on lawns and fields across the nation.
Groins were pulled. Hamstrings were injured. Egos were deflated.
Back in the day, The Dispatch had a team called the Fishwrappers. We played on the west lawn of the Statehouse on Capitol Square.
Our captain at the time was the medical reporter. She organized the team, got T-shirts made and rounded up players, which included a good mix of young and old, male and female.
Some of us were in shape. Some of us were not. Some smoked. (Some smoked during the games, believe it or not.) One pitcher – a graphic artist for the newspaper – pulled a butt muscle during warmups and was out for the season.
Most of us drank beer after games.
We won a few games and lost a bunch. For the most part, it was a hoot.
Try to remember back to grade school when you last played kickball. It might have been in gym class. It might have been at recess. You might have been the last kid picked for a team. That sometimes was me.
The rules were pretty simple. A pitcher would roll a big red ball toward home plate and a kid would kick it as hard as they could. The rest is played pretty much like baseball, but in kickball, you can put a runner out by beaning them with the ball.
Now try to imagine grownups playing that game. Same big red ball. Same rules.
Some kids in grade school were too competitive. Some adults in the downtown league were too competitive.
Some threw that red ball at your head, even though that was against the rules. Some yelled at the umpires. Some yelled at umpires way too much.
That season, a reporter and I were chosen to represent the Fishwrappers on one of the league’s all-star teams. It was quite an honor.
When we showed up for the game, we were among the oldest players on the squad. I sat on the bench most of the game, but got to play in the outfield for one inning and made it to the plate once. I flew out to center field.
I played another season or so for the Fishwrappers, but somewhere along the line, some of the players on our team and a few on some of the others started taking this kids’ game far too seriously. There were arguments, insults and near fights.
That was enough for me. I quietly retired from kickball.
Mark Somerson Business First
The Arena District Athletic Club is more than just a gym, it’s a premier fitness facility located in the heart of the Arena District in downtown Columbus. We provide convenience and quality, featuring top-of-the-line equipment, top-notch personal trainers, spa-like locker rooms and a wide variety of free group fitness classes daily including Cardio, Spinning, Barre Fusion, Yoga, Boot Camp and more. We offer free 2-hour parking and convenient contract-free memberships, to fit your healthy lifestyle needs. Don’t just join, belong.