Can you imagine winning a softball game by a decisive score of 24 - 5 and not being happy about it? Well, that's what happened yesterday at the Saratoga Softball Diamonds in Waukesha, WI at a game played between a team made up of local softball stars and the touring team of Wounded Warrior Project players. Although the local team won you could tell they weren't all that excited about it.
As you can imagine the ex-service men team was at a physical disadvantage with almost all of their players having some sort of disability. Get this, their pitcher - who pitched the entire game by the way - is a double-leg amputee and even took his rightful turn at bat. Most of their other players were single-amputee athletes.
The game got away from the WWP team quickly and by the second or third inning there was no doubt about which way the contest would turn out. It was not a matter of if the local team would win but, rather, by how much. There was a built-in 5 run rule so that no one inning would be too lop-sided and the Waukesha team hit that mark almost every time.
But watching the game from the stands nearest the 3rd base line and listening to the WWP left fielder you wouldn't have guessed that his team was losing. He was a buzz saw of banter, encouraging his own players while they were on the defense and making sure the local guys weren't dogging it as they hit and ran with impunity. Several times he yelled loudly at an opposing player if it was obvious that the runner was not giving his all. The WWP outfielder wanted respect more than a victory and by listening in on the bench conversation of the home team you could tell this was having an effect.
At first, the game was scheduled for only 7 innings and that seemed like a good idea as the score got out of hand. But when that time ran out the WWP team unanimously voted to extend it to nine and the local team agreed. As one of the ex-soldiers said, "It's such a great day for playing ball. Why would we want to stop?" By that time they were down by almost 20 runs!
What an inspiration to watch. What wonderful lessons to learn. By turns my heart broke for these guys for the sporting punishment they put themselves through (there probably aren't many games they win on their tours) and yet was inspired by the courage and determination of such brave guys who refuse to let a terrible thing dictate who they are and where they go in life.
Somehow my early-morning aches and pains, pet-peeves and complaints don't seem so significant today.