Back in high school, I was a member of the varsity baseball team. I say “member” because I didn’t play a whole lot. I was an OK fielder, but I COULD NOT hit a curve ball to save my life (still can’t). Therefore, my inadequate batter’s box abilities had me “riding the bench.” A lot. My only occasional reprieve from the bench was as a “courtesy runner.” After one of our players hit the ball and reached base, the coach would call “time” and I would take the person’s place on base. This was usually for our catchers or pitchers who normally weren’t fast guys. I was fast. Thanks to my speed, I could beat any catcher's throw and stole a shit-load of bases. My left knee had a perpetual puss-covered scab all summer thanks to sliding into 2nd base on a daily basis. My team made the state tournament one year and I got to steal a base there too. That was pretty much one of the few highlights from my lame high school sports career.
Thankfully I was not the only one on the team that was blessed with “partial talent.” Some of my teammates could hit the shit out of the ball, but lacked the speed needed to run the base paths. Some had a quality glove in the field, but couldn’t hit or run worth a damn. Then there were a few that were just there because they “went out for baseball.” We didn’t have tryouts, so if you went out - you were on the team.
The only real action we would see on a given day was batting practice before the game. Since we were – you know – “on the team,” the coaches had to throw batting practice to everyone before every game. Of course the instruction and quality of “batting practice” was quite lopsided, as the bench warmers would get 10 pitches to a starting player’s 20-25. On occasion, one of us “partially talented” people brought their “A” game into the batting cage and pounded line drives back at the coach. This usually garnered some patronizing “WHOOO!!! Get him outta there!! He’s hot!” If this happened within the 1st few pitches, you could guarantee you were getting less than 10 pitches. A). The coach didn’t want to get hit. And B). It didn’t make a difference because we weren’t going to play anyway.
We played double headers almost every weekday during that summer. That equates into hours of sitting on a bus going town to town, and HOURS of riding the bench. Looking back at that time, I can’t believe we had the self-esteem we did. We rarely played, and when we did, it made no difference. To distract us from feeling like total losers, we were often creative with the time we had – you know - not playing baseball.
|A surefire dugout gag when the team is losing - "Rally Caps." |
It always provide a team with good comic relief and inspires
everyone on the team to get fired up.
My friend “Rick(*)” and I were dedicated bench warmers, and we did our part to support the team. For the most part, I think we were a good comic relief for the players that actually got to play. We could be counted on for encouraging chatter from the dugout, and helping keep the team score book (a lost art if you ask me.) We were also quite the pranksters.
One day Rick and I came up with a gag from unknown origins, and we unleashed it on a teammate with outstanding success. It turned into the best “A-Hole Joke” we ever did. Through trial and error, we decided I should play the alleged victim of the joke, because I was less likely to lose it and start laughing. Rick got to play the “A-Hole,” which worked out great because he could laugh and – you know – be an A-Hole.
Rick would start talking to a prospective target about something mundane. Then he would go
“Hey. You should go ask Mookie about his Dad’s wedding ring.”
The guy would be all confused and go “Why?” To which Rick would say:
“Just go DO IT! It is HILARIOUS.”
The guy would come up to me and go “Hey, I’m supposed to ask you about your Dad’s wedding ring.”
I would look that person angrily in the face, and feign like I was looking to kick Rick’s ass. Once I “saw” Rick, I would then yell “DAMMIT RICK! It’s not funny!” The target of the prank would have this look of shock and horror because they had NO idea what can of crazy they just opened up. I would then act all dejected, and apologize to the target for being pissy. They would naturally ask “Dude, what happened?”
I’d act like the story was hard to tell, and then I would go:
"Well. My Dad was in an accident at work, and he got his left ring finger cut off. When that happened, it also ruined his wedding ring.”
I’d then look at the target with a pained look and then look down. The guy would be all “Man I’m sorry! Wow.” Then he’d return to Rick and just berate him for being an insensitive callous jackass, to which Rick would laugh and laugh and laugh.
Depending on the person, we would either let the cat out of the bag right away or wait a few minutes if we felt the person could handle it.
When we did tell them, they always thought it was funny. I don’t know why either, because in reality it is a perversely sick joke. Which – again - is what you get when you get a bunch of losers trying to fill the time not playing baseball. (Perhaps they were relieved to find out my Dad was just fine and no such accident had happened.)
The really sad part is that we have executed this joke several times since our baseball days. One time, we even did it over e-mail to an unsuspecting guy who had e-mails going back and forth to Rick and myself separately. It worked like a charm. We have also been known to do it at random without telling the other person it was going to happen. We’d be at an event, and Rick would tell a mutual friend of ours at the event to “Ask Mookie about his Dad’s wedding ring when you see him. It’s hilarious.” So the guy would find me and say “Rick told me to ask you about your Dad’s wedding ring.” Not knowing it was coming; I could still play the part, and sell it like nothing else. The guy would then go back to Rick and call him a dick.
Then the joke would be revealed in its a-hole glory.
Yeah I know. We should probably grow up. Someday. Maybe.
(*) Names changed to protect the guilty and the innocent.