In my storied glory daze playing high school sports, I had my fair share of highlights and lowlights, experiencing both the thrill of victory and the agony of the feet, er, defeat, to shamelessly borrow a little lingo from the iconic intro to ABC’s Wide World of Sports, the renowned television show of yore. The highlights of my salad days remain treasured memories, yet lowlights often stand out all the more in one’s mind, and might be best forgotten, but since that ain’t [sic] gonna happen, why not share some near-nadirs, lowest of my sporting lows. Try the following three. Bear with me.  [“Bear Down!”]

Let’s start with the moment in 1975 that ended my high school baseball run. Our mighty varsity squad were playing up at San Dieguito High in Encinitas when I found myself on first base after having singled.Our next batter hit a pop fly to shallow right, so I played it halfway in case the bloop was dropped.  The fly was caught. I scrambled back to first. But my spikes got caught on the bag, turning my right ankle so severely it immediately swelled to the size of a grapefruit. I felt no pain…yet. Yet the very moment I looked down and saw my grotesquely misshapen foot, I began to laugh. The grapefruit was growing.

Somehow I summoned the wherewithal to walk off the field, not exactly the kind of “walk-off” most baseballers dream about, eh, sports fans?  Hardly. I’d severed seven ligaments and although my foot was hanging by a thread, no surgery was indicated. The doctor at Balboa Hospital where this Navy brat, er, Navy junior (...dig, Kevin?) was treated, did say I’d have been better off breaking the ankle.

Gee, doc, thanks for that tidbit of TMI. Ouch. I wore an annoyingly itchy long-leg cast for a month, followed by a below-the-knee affair which I sported for a second month, including prom night, giving me a perfect excuse to avoid the dance floor, as I’d have done anyway! I did dance once with my date and once with my dear friend, Flash (...hello, Flash). Thus ended my high school hardballing. [sigh]

For my next magical lowlight, I’ll regale you with how my one season of high school football got off on the wrong foot, forgive the mind-numbing pun. As a junior, yours truly played for the mighty JV as fullback and kicker. I’d never played organized football, not even Pop Warner, so I was truly a newbie. On the opening kickoff of our season opener at Mar Vista, I’d neglected to put in my mouthpiece, so as I moseyed downfield admiring the trajectory of my kick, an opposing player broadsided me with a perfectly clean, legal hit, knocking me into tomorrow, teeth a-clattering. I was unhurt, except for my big, fat, bruised ego. The lesson learned?  Wear your dang mouthpiece, dummy!

Finally, I take my leave of you ( cut that out) with one last lowlight from baseball, my first love. I preface the account by saying I hated striking out, and rarely did, once I’d been fitted with contact lenses. But I digress. During a CHS summer-league baseball game down at Mar Vista High (…again?), I managed to fan four times, garnering the elusive Golden Sombrero,  By the way, striking out thrice in one game will get you the Silver Sombrero. As I wended my way back to the dugout after having whiffed for the fourth time, Coach Sterkel and I made eye contact. We both just shook our heads and chuckled. Some days you eat the bear, and some days the bear eats you, eh, Boo-Boo?

VOL. 112, NO. 19 - May 11, 2022

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