An Echo From Better Times

     I saw this story via AoSHQ:

     Lily Roberts is a pitcher for the Adairsville JV Softball Team. The team they were playing against a couple of weeks ago was about to lose when their pitcher got sick.

     “They were struggling and I knew if I didn’t step up, the game would have to end and they would have to forfeit. So I just thought, I would love to step up,” Roberts told 11 Alive.

     So that’s exactly what she did. Roberts stepped right up to the mound and pitched for the opposing team.

     And she wasn’t lobbing easy balls over the plate against her teammates, she was firing them across home plate for strikes.

“She would smile at them and throw them a strike,” Coach Kelly Abernathy said. “She was pitching like she was pitching in a championship game.”

     Even while Roberts was striking out her own teammates, the girls on both benches were cheering.

     “I think the other team was really supportive of me coming to pitch for them. I did hear them cheering for me when I was pitching, and it made me feel good,” Roberts said.

     Coach Abernathy said it’s not winning that makes him proud, it’s how the players act and the lessons they learn on the field.

     “If we could be as positive as Lily is, there would be a lot less problems in the world,” he added.

     This reminded me of a story I heard from a much older ice hockey fan, about the days when the NHL had only six teams, before the players started wearing enough protective equipment to stop a round from a Vulcan cannon. In those far-off years, the teams played as much for love of the game as they did for fortune and glory. Accordingly, certain practices, not exactly mandated by NHL rules but expected of every franchise, arose to cushion teams against on-ice injuries and other unpredictable events. One of these was “goalie lending.” If Team X’s two goalies were both sidelined by injury or other unfortunate developments while Team Y’s two goalies remained healthy and ready to play, Team Y would “lend” Team X its backup goalie for the duration of the game. That goalie would be expected to play his best – and he did.

     That’s the sort of thing you get from authentic sportsmen. It’s a verdict on our time that nothing of that sort would be imaginable today – in any “professional” sport.

1 comment

  1. That is still a rule in the NHL. Each team has an “emergency backup” goaltender for home games. He doesn’t dress out unless one of the teams (it doesn’t matter which one) needs a second goaltender for whatever reason. They usually wind up sitting on the team’s bench, but typically it happens once or twice a season that the emergency backup winds up playing. That is how the Maple Leafs lost a game to their Zamboni driver. That driver also served as their practice goaltender. When pressed into service, he wound up winning the game for Carolina.

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