Sunday, February 22, 2009

From Mark H, friend and Digger teammate

I'm the guy who replaced Mike as the primary pitcher on the Diggers, if "replace" is even the word.

Even on a recreational softball team, Mike stood out by belonging to his position in a way that seemed out of the ordinary. The rest of us were always misfits and moving parts; he owned the mound. It's no easy thing taking over for someone who is essential to a position, especially when you fall short in so many ways. This in part explains why we now have no fewer than three pitchers who will rotate into different games at different times.

One anecdote in particular seems to cut straight to the heart of Mike's reputation, both on our team and in our league, and I'd like to share it. The first year I pitched (the year Mike took ill) we played a game against a team very well-known to us, one we had played against in many tight games in the past. I pitched decently, just well enough to win a close game, and after the game, a player from the opposing team passed me on the field and congratulated me. He told me that when he and his teammates saw me warming up before the game, they calculated they stood a much better chance of winning because they "didn't have to face that awesome Asian guy, and will we have to face him next time?"

It's a funny thing to be told by someone you just beat that they're still more afraid of the guy who held the position before you than they are of you, but the big world of New York City softball is small like that. People remember the good guys.

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