Be Careful What You Ask For

my shoes didn’t look this good

I truly liked my little league baseball coach (I do not capitalize little league as I do not know if we were part of the official program that is headquartered in Pennsylvania). He was a good coach, a better man. Heck, I would have done about anything for him. Case in point, the third baseman and the spikes.

Way back when I was in little league there were rules about spikes. You were supposed to wear rubber ones, but there was this shoe that had five metal spikes, one on the toe, two down about the widest part of the foot, and two on either side of the heel. Now it was legal because it came with these little rubber tips that you could put over the spikes and wear them. Most of the guys had this kind, and occasionally one of the rubber covers would fall off and when play stopped, you’d see time out called and guys running over grabbing the rubber tip and reinserting it on to the spike. Of course I had a pair and they were my pride and joy. They were great because you could use them with the rubber tips on during little league season and with the tips off for junior high season. I have no idea if they still make them or not.

I was 12, we were in a close game, and down a couple of runs. We’d just come in from the field after giving up three runs. The other team’s third baseman had ripped a two run double, then scored on an error (not mine) and a single. Our head coach turned to our assistant and pointing to the opposing third baseman said, “I wish we could get that kid out of there. He’s killing us.” He went on out to coach third, but I had big ears.

I hit second that inning and knew the pitcher well enough to know that he was scatter-armed enough that I could draw a walk. So I wandered over to the corner of the dugout, reached down, and popped off the rubber tips on my right shoe, then dropped them in a neat little pile in the corner under the seat. Our nine hitter made an out, which brought me up. I actually singled, then stole second. And there he was, the object of all our troubles, standing down there at third. Standing right down there at third and here I was on second with no spikes on my right shoe. Well, coach, you want him outta there, I can do that for you. So off I went, sliding in hard, right shoe elevated. I caught him about mid calf, raked down, and, By God, I was safe.

It was the blood that was the problem. You see I was rising up safe and he was screaming and thrashing around and there was blood. That got people’s attention. Oh, guys had been slid into before and there were bruises and tears and curses, but this was actual blood. Honest to God real red blood. His uniform pants had a long gash and blood was pouring (OK, it wasn’t pouring, but it was oozing) out of his leg. The other coach was screaming, the umpire looked concerned, and my coach was giving me this strange look.

So up comes the umpire. “Let me see your shoes, kid.” So I show him my left shoe. “The other one, kid.” So I show him my right shoe. “You take them tips off on purpose, kid?”

“Not me, sir. They musta fallen off while I was running the bases.”

“Uh, huh. All of ’em?”


Well, we looked and couldn’t seem to find them out on the field anywhere. Then there was that small matter of having them all neatly piled in the corner of the dugout. The other guy missed one game. I got two weeks suspension, missed four games (we went 2-2), and had to face my coach.

“What the hell were you doing?” (first time I ever heard him curse).

“You said you wanted him out of the game. He’s out.”

The rest of the conversation was one-sided and unprintable.

I’d like to tell you I learned a lesson, but we won the game and at the time that made it seem worthwhile. I could still be a jerk, and unkind people might say I still am. We had two junior high schools in town and the other team’s third baseman attended the one I didn’t, so I didn’t have to face him at school or anything. I did learn that when you take off your rubber spike tips on purpose, don’t pile them up. That’s been very useful to me as I’ve aged. I can truthfully say I’ve never done it since. Not one time.



3 Responses to “Be Careful What You Ask For”

  1. William Miller Says:

    Oh, man. I really enjoyed this story. I guess you were the Ty Cobb of your league, huh? Lesson learned: Whatever you do, don’t get caught.
    This was a good one,

  2. footinthebucket Says:

    That’s a GREAT story! I hadn’t read it until just now, and I’m sorry about that. And I was thinking the same thing that Bill was thinking about Ty Cobb! I was thinking, “Is this guy Ty Cobb JUNIOR”?????

    Tremendous story that I wished I saw eight days ago.


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