The Most Unreal Moment of My Athletic Career
By: Connor Lenahan
For the second straight summer I got to play softball with my friends and coworkers from Boston University, mainly in the Student Activities office. Unlike last year we were an absolute juggernaut. For the first seven games of the season we were undefeated and putting up double digit runs per game. Orpheo Speer, our trusty pitcher, decided to channel Pedro Martinez to an unreal season keeping teams far from us.
Last week, however, we took on and lost our first game to a team made up of Questrom School of Business staff members. It was far from our best game – I think we gave up, like, 8 runs in the first two innings. Not good.
For reasons that have yet to make sense to me our team, the number one seed, faced the Questrom team – Risky Business – again this week in the first round of the playoffs. We were out for vengeance, we wanted an undefeated season and they took that from us.
Risky Business’s best player was an absurdly athletic shortstop known only to me as Jace. He led off the game for the business school squad and proceeded to hit the furthest recreational softball home run I have ever seen. It cleared a net no less than 17 feet tall and went across the street from home plate. Did I mention that (and I’m 99% sure on this) he hit that homer on the first pitch?
Things did not look good.
Over the next six innings we were locked in as tight a battle as I’d ever played in. Last week we were trying to come back from a huge deficit the whole time. This week? The final score ends up 4-3. While Orpheo is mowing down hitters like grass, and turning would be found balls into the most ass-backwards double play of all time, we cannot penetrate their defense of athleticism and market capitalism. A true quandary, really.
Here’s where shit gets weird.
In the bottom of the 7th and final inning we quickly tally up two outs. It looks like, as we are down one, all is lost for the SAO peeps. Then the magic starts to come alive. It was largely a blur. One second I’m cleaning up equipment, the next we are a base hit away from a tie ballgame. Cait Buser worked a three pitch walk – it will take entirely too long to explain these rules, go with me here – and took first base.
Bottom of the last inning. Two outs. Bases loaded. Loser goes home from the playoffs.
Connor Lenahan has to bat.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that I was frighteningly close to a cardiac episode as I approached the plate. My pinch runner, Ethan Sobel, a cheetah that took human form, got ready to sprint harder than all season.
A quick aside about my softball prowess: I am not exactly gifted with incredible physical strength. As a result, I cannot hit for power whatsoever. Instead, my entire career has been based on hitting sharp ground balls that are practically impossible to field. This is not an exaggeration: I hit over .550 this season. I kept track. I had already grounded into a fielder’s choice earlier in the game, I needed to not do that again.
My game plan was to put the ball on the ground and pray to every deity that I could that CC would make it to home base unscathed. That’s not what happened.
Being the impatient hitter I am, I swung at the first pitch.
I hit the strongest ball of my entire athletic career. A straight shot up the middle, over the catcher. Only the second ball I had ever hit in the air during my softball career.
If it had dropped one and a half feet closer or further we are still playing this game.
Jace, who had fielded every ball I hit over the last two weeks, jumped and snagged my ball.
At bat over. Inning over. Game over. Season over. Risky Business 4-3.
I choked away the biggest at bat of the season.
Here’s the weird part. It was crazy to think that I would even be there in the first place. For one, with Osteogenesis Imperfecta the fact that I’m playing softball is a no kidding around miracle. The fact that I’m one of the most productive hitters on our team is absolutely unheard of.
When I’m playing wiffle ball with my brothers in my driveway, a home made park where I’m a Barry Bonds-esque home run king, I set up the exact scenario that I faced tonight. Well, in as much as it’s the bottom of the last inning, bases loaded, two outs, with everything on the line.
How many people actually get to live that out? On any scale? This is a story, for better or worse, that I’ll get to tell for quite a while. And with OI, this is it for me. It’s not like I have an athletic career outside of intramural sports. This is my prime time. This was my ALCS.
Did it go the way I wanted? Of course not. My entire walk home I wanted another shot at that hit. But one thing makes it better. After the game, Orpheo mentioned that he found out why Jace was destroying us. Jace used to be a pro. At some level, I didn’t ask further. Apparently he’s married into Risky Business.
This means that I forced a guy that played real baseball to make a tough catch against a 20-year-old who just hit a ball airborne for the second time ever, who also is playing the highest level of competition he will ever see – and succeeding.
Fuck it, I still call that a win in my book.
Thank you to everyone from our SAO team for an awesome season and for being kind enough to let me play in the first place. Same time next year? Because the 2016 batting title is mine.