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Playing Catch in France

November 11th, 2017 · No Comments · Baseball, France

While packing to move to France, I came across an ancient and tiny baseball glove.

An American going abroad … can he really leave behind a baseball glove? (Even one that is not his own?)

No. He cannot. There’s going away, and then there is leaving behind an essential part of your cultural patrimony.

But what use is one baseball glove without another? Two gloves needed to play catch, the most basic of all baseball activities.

So, we went to an “everything must go!” closeout sale of a sporting goods retailer, while in SoCal, and bought a second glove … and then we packed the “official” California League baseball, too — and baseball goes to the Old World.

Not that we took the baseball gear directly from the shipping container and away to the nearest playground. Actually, it was a year. But now we have “had a catch” as the old usage goes, perhaps to the puzzlement of the local kids kicking around a soccer ball or the parents with their daughter on “for-little-kids-only” monkey bars with slide.

And I decided something:

The odds were very good that our 45 minutes of playing catch represented the first time a baseball had been thrown in our little town — and the town has been around for 700 years or so. Predating even Tommy Lasorda.

A strange thing about playing sports is that the average person expects to be at (or near) the talent level he was when he last put down the bat or ball. Even when it has been a break of 25 years.

Turns out, the ability to judge a pop fly withers from a lack of use. Or maybe declines due to age. I had a lot of trouble anticipating where a high, arcing ball would come down. (“Ah, so this is how Kyle Schwarber feels in left field.”)

Throwing, softly, with some accuracy, comes back fairly quickly. As does work with the leather, even when one glove was new and stiff and fairly smallish.

The other glove, the really small one, actually was more useful for catching the ball because that ancient thing folds right in half. Easy for clutching. That did not mean it made catching a baseball less potentially painful, but by shifting three fingers one slot further from the “pocket” of the glove it reduced the sting of ball-on-knuckle.

So, we lobbed the ball back and forth for a half hour or so, and we could feel the gaze of local people on these odd foreigners throwing a smallish, white ball. (A sport pretty much unknown here, aside from the small-town facility a long-time reader pointed out, in July of 2016.)

While we were there, a guy from Sacramento who lives in town … as far as we can tell the first American to buy a home here … walked past and said, “Baseball season!?!” And I said something like, “it’s always baseball season!”

So, it was simple and fun, and it felt American and was perhaps a groundbreaking event in the history of the village — unless our American friend beat us to it.

We might not have gotten around to it had we not been dog-sitting a friend’s shih-tzu and keen to find a patch of ground where the little fur ball could frolic — while we played catch. That would be the modest athletic fields.

Who knows, maybe we will get a bat next.



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