Health and Fitness - What My Softball Team Has Taught Me

I am 41 years old and I recently desired a change in my life. I contemplated dyeing my hair, buying a convertible, wearing skater shoes and purchasing a cool puka shell necklace. I was informed that these are all signs of a midlife crisis. I certainly can’t be associated with any labels like that. I thus decided to satisfy my hunger for variety in a non-crisis fashion and I joined a softball team. It’s been about a month, and I’ve managed to survive about a half-dozen softball games. Here is what I have discovered.

I have been a solitary runner for 20 years, so teamwork has not been a necessary part of my designated sport. I have been master and commander of my ship. Softball demands that 10 players contribute for the common good of the team. My days of spinsterhood, playing solitaire, and reclusiveness are over. I have to look out for my fellow brethren. It has been great learning to be part of something. I can’t function without them and vice-versa.

Not everyone is good. Some of the outfielders race in to catch a fly ball only to see it sail 30 feet over their noggin. Others throw like Blanche, Rose, Sophia and Dorothy. I have been befuddled as I watch guys swing the bat with all the grace of a fairy godmother and her wand. I don’t mind these dreadful displays of athleticism. It is humbling to me because I know that there is something out there that I am horrible at. I proceed with this mindset and complete understanding

The theme song for this season of roundball could easily be REM’s “Everybody Hurts.” To my disbelief, I have already been injured and I have felt the sting of many a painful practice and game. I run 40 miles a week, I work out three days per week, and I even take long bike rides for cross-training purposes. How could this suffering be a possibility for someone like me?

The reality is that I am working a different range of motion for my muscles. I have given greater credence to the expression that what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger. Even Superman had his kryptonite, and Achilles had his heel.

Softball certainly has its gadabout tendencies. I am especially fond of this social side of the sport. The reward for engaging in the weekly ritual of two consecutive seven-inning games is found in a mug of Bud Light at ye olde watering hole after the barbarism has subsided. Rewards have even been known to involve some backyard frolicking in our shortstop’s pool. The horse is bound to gallop when he has that carrot stuck in front of his nose. Our team has tremendous galloping power thanks to our “carrots.”

I am enjoying the break in my daily monotony from this thing called softball. I am reaping the benefits from the healthy mental and physical aspects of the activity. I have found a niche that has proved exciting for me. It has been much cheaper than acquiring that box of Clairol, the ragtop Mustang, the black pair of Vans, and the island accessory with the shark tooth that would have adorned my neck. I even feel 10 years younger since my first day of taking to right centerfield. My midlife emergency has suffered a crippling blow. The world is safe now; but for how long?

This health and fitness column is brought to you by that guy whose 10-gallon hat has been largely unaffected by his 15-gallon mouth. That guy is Ron Blake, and he can be reached at

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