Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Amazing Save

When I was an active member of Diggers, Mike and I were both pitchers. Often, he played outfield until my pitching crapped out and he would clean up my mess. I will never forget the game at Central Park one Fall (I think it might have been 1999 or 2000).

We played every game with all our heart, but I think this was the season that we were close to finally making it into the post-season playoffs and we were hungry for the win. Unfortunately, the pressure was getting to me and I managed to pitch myself into a deep hole. I think it was the stuff of after-school specials; the bases loaded, maybe 1 out at best, and the pitch count was 3-0. Michael Glavin was helping Jon Keller coach at the time and he could see the dread on my face. One more bad pitch and we would lose the game. He slowly walked to the mound, didn't say a thing, just took the ball and called to the outfield, "Su!"

Like a professional reliever coming in from the bull pen, Mike confidently ran up to the mound and gave me a nod that said, "I got this." I was feeling both relief and guilt. I was off the hook for the next pitch, but I left him with what I thought was certain disaster. Under normal conditions Mike would take a batter or two to settle into his pitching rhythm. By that time, the game would be lost.

Maybe it was the added pressure that called out Mike's best skills, maybe it was Mike's supreme confidence that intimidated the batter, or maybe it was the illusion of professionalism that was always the hallmark of the Digger operation. I don't know, but I do know that Mike pitched 3 strikes in a row right out of the box. He struck out the batter, changed the tenor of the game, got us out of that terrible inning and secured his place forever in my heart as my hero. I'm not usually one to look to a man to save me, but I have to admit, Mike's gallantry made it feel real good in that instant.

Steph, #55

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