Today Gabe is wearing a blue t-shirt, red shorts, and brown flip flips.
Well, it finally happened.
Three years ago, Gabe decided to get into baseball. We were living in San Francisco, and the Giants were just about the most lovable team there was. We followed them all season, and Gabe was heartily rewarded with a World Series win. Not too shabby.
One year ago, Gabe decided to get into playing baseball. He had been watching for two years, and wanted to get out there with a bat and glove, and figure out what it is all his favorite players were doing all day. I grew up playing baseball, and offered to help guide him on his journey to learn how to field a grounder without hopping in the air, closing his eyes, and putting his glove…somewhere in the vicinity of where he hoped the ball would be.
One day ago, Gabe and I went to a nearby park with a baseball field for some grounder practice. I hit balls to him while he stood at shortstop and well, long story short: I hit Gabe in the face with a baseball.
I got hit in the face with a baseball when I was seven or eight. I was at first base, and the third baseman was about to throw the ball to me to get the runner out. Just as she let the ball fly, the umpire said something to me. I don’t know why. I don’t remember what he said. Suffice to say, it was unorthodox to speak to a player right as someone was about to throw the ball to them. So I turned to look at him. I said, “What?” And that’s when a baseball smashed into my face.
I didn’t freak out (I think I was in shock, and had lots of adrenaline pumping from what was a fairly competitive game by 8 year old standards) but lived the rest of my childhood baseball career having already survived everyone’s worst fear: getting hit in the face with the ball so hard it leaves stitch marks in your cheek.
Yesterday, after I’d been hitting Gabe some grounders for a while, he suggested a game. “Why don’t you hit me a grounder, then run to first. If I can throw it home before you get to first base, then I get a point. If it’s after you get to first, then you get a point.” I agreed, knocked a grounder into the field, and started sprinting to first base, my eye on the ball the whole time.
When the ball reached the grass of the outfield, after having been content to roll along the ground for the full distance of the field, it suddenly leapt into the air and set a course directly for Gabe’s face. I saw it hit, and I heard it hit, and I watched a spray of sweat (that I, at the time, thought was teeth) blast off Gabe’s face.
I veered sharp to the left and ran to the outfield, mentally planning a route to the hospital and trying to remember the name of Gabe’s insurance provider, only to discover my boyfriend standing there rattled, but completely fine.
Turns out, his sunglasses (you know the ones) had absorbed all the impact. They had flown off his head several feet, and were sadly broken, but they saved Gabe’s face from the fate of an inches-wide bruise, stitch marks from a baseball, and a lot of weird looks.
As we stood together in the outfield, Gabe said, “Really I feel fine! Do you want to keep playing?” And I said, “No, Gabe, I don’t think I’m going to hit any more baseballs at you today.”
And that’s the story of how I hit Gabe in the face with a baseball.