*You're so surprised, I'm sure.
I digress. In the dream, I was playing second base, and I was a senior. I also managed to badly bungle two easy pop-ups and got pulled from the game. My errors caused us to fall way behind, but the rest of the team managed to come back and eventually pull out the win. Everybody was ecstatic. Except for me. I was busy sulking on the bench with a thousand-yard stare. Towards the end of the game when it was becoming pretty clear we were going to pull this thing out after all, the coach* came over to gently berate me for not celebrating in the team's success. I didn't accept it. "Yeah, they're all happy, and I get it. But it doesn't matter for me. It's all over for me. And maybe this team gets to go out as a winner, but I don't. I get to spend the rest of my life knowing that my baseball career is going to end on those awful plays." And the whole thing ended up with everybody in tears.
*And, yes, it was the same coach from real life. Some things carried over.
So not that different from how high school baseball went for me in real life, right? Sort of. Senior year was hard for me. I didn't play nearly as much as I thought I should have, and I did take it pretty hard. Harder than I should have, but hey, I was a teenager. This is back when I was young, skinny, and a little bit attractive. The actual end I remember pretty clearly.
It was sectionals at Riverton Parke. The game story is actually still on the web. It even specifically indicates that it ended my career, for some reason.* In any case, that game started out close and then got away from us, which is probably why I got to go play second to finish the game. That part I don't remember quite as clearly. But I do remember the very end. I was playing second base, two outs, bottom of the sixth. We were unlikely to come back from eight runs as it was, but it was especially unlikely with the way we had been hitting. I wasn't due up anytime soon. I took a moment before the next batter to really look around the field, off into the stands, off into the woods behind the left field fence. I had flirted with trying to play in college, but my disastrous senior year pretty well put an end to that.** No, this would be it.
*It also included my classmates Matt and Ryan, to be fair. But it still seemed a little odd to call us out by name.
**That said, when I was at Wabash, I was fixing a computer for Coach Stevens (who was an assistant when I was a prospective student) remembered my name and said I really should have come out for the team. I'm happy with how my college career went without baseball, I wouldn't necessarily change anything about that if I had the chance. But that was nice to hear.
I got down into a fielding stance, and sure enough, the hitter popped the ball up into very shallow right field. I drifted back and put my arms straight out, parallel to the ground. That was my only action to indicate I had the ball, it was hit almost right to me. I didn't feel like I needed to verbally call for it. I'm not entirely sure I could have properly called for it anyway. As I held my arms out and waited for the ball to come down, the thought crossed my mind again. "This is the last competitive thing you will ever do on a baseball diamond. Soak it up." I put my glove up, together with my bare hand. If this was the last thing I was going to do, I was going to do it text book. The ball fell softly into my glove, and I safely squeezed it into the leather, keeping the seal tight with my bare hand.
"So that's it," I thought as I jogged back to the dugout. "It's over." Three outs later, of which I was in the dugout as predicted, it was. My baseball career was done, and so was my high school career. The academic part had been over for a bit, the baseball season ran longer than school. A couple weeks later, I'd find myself in the bumper factory sanding parts and hanging them up to be painted for a summer job. I cried after the first night, and I really couldn't articulate why. I still don't know if I could. I guess I was just sad that I wasn't a kid any more.
The summer passed. I had to stop working at the factories to get my foot operated on. I had a bone spur removed, I didn't get myself hurt or anything. Then the summer ended, and I got to start life as a college kid.
Things get better.