Even though football earns the biggest slice of my sporting life, it will always be with baseball where I got my first taste of being involved in a team sport. I think I was just 6 years old when my older cousins encouraged me to play sandlot baseball. Being one of the three smallest kids in our neighborhood, we were always designated as outfielders. Mind you, in a real game, the outfielders are very important. They would be the ones who catch would-be homerun hits, deep fly balls and the like. BUT in a kids game, the outfielders are the useless ones! Haha! Why? Because kids would never, ever get to bat the ball out of the ballpark. Most of the time, the ball would just stay within the diamond. And while we, the three smallest kids, would be just be sitting down at the left, center and right fields with our gloves covering our heads.
But you ask, do we get to bat too? Yup, we do. But always to the delight of the crowd. One time I swung at the ball and I thought I hit hard enough. My cousins were yelling, "Run, run to first base!". So I ran as fast I could only to find out that I was already out before even reaching first base. Damn cousins!
Those sandlot games were very competitive. Everyday, all of us "ball players" would gather and go to neighboring barangays. There we challenge other kids and more often than not, we played for money! Hehe! When we win, the coins I chipped in would get doubled and I'd get to buy ice water. When we lose, I would just drink from my cousin's ice water.
Eventually, everybody all grew up and were now playing hard ball -- real baseball I mean. My cousins became all pretty good at it and represented Cebu in alot of Palarong Pambansa games. One of them even was a pitcher who would have been in the National team if he wasn't too much of a mama's boy. Hehe. I became a pitcher too and played a couple of Palarong Pambansa games during highschool. I could still remember being trained by my cousin pitcher at 5am in the morning when the sun was barely out. He taught me how to throw a curve ball so he showed me how first. I had never seen a curve ball up close before and I got a rude awakening when I did. I was waiting to catch his pitch from the outside but then suddenly, the ball swerved back to the center and hit my face dead-on. I had to learn the hard way.
Though I've never swung a bat or threw a pitch since highschool, my love for the game still remains. This morning's game affirmed that.