Twelve years old and defiant towards my big brother and the all boys baseball league.
Now, the pigtails are gone, and my knees would probably cement if I sat behind home plate, even just for one inning. My batting average certainly wouldn't be out of the 100's, with Barry Bowyer's fast balls brushing me back off the plate.
But the memories of playing springtime baseball, of being the solo girl in the field of boys, reminds me to keep moving, to get dirty, to refuse to go gentle.
A challenge propelled me to play baseball.
I tagged along to watch my older brother try out for Little League.
Once we got to Harmon Field in Tryon, the park was a staccato rhythm of thwunking and popping of leather against leather and the dull ting of ball against aluminum.
I stood near the fencing, sidling up beside the line of hopeful fathers, as my brother walked off, glove in hand, and quipped an end to our quiet argument: "Girls don't play baseball."
I borrowed a glove and signed my name on the try out list. I don't know what they--boys and men--thought.
I tapped the plate, when it was my turn. I hit, I took infield, I threw. I ran.
The next week, I went to my first Red Sox practice. My baseball season started.
Thirty eight years later, it's another spring, and Little League is getting ready to start. And there will certainly be youngsters throwing, hitting, running at Harmon Field, as they have for the past 75 or so years. But other young people will be vegetating, hibernating, over contemplating. And while many young baseball players race and rebel against the umpires' might, we all can be a player, regardless of age, like Thomas' "Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight."