Every day from spring to fall, I carry gashes and scabs on my arms and legs. These battle scars form on my skin when I slide across the coarse dirt and jagged gravel of a baseball field. Playing baseball brings me joy, and it is hard to live without it. This became especially apparent about two and a half years ago. My scars serve as a reminder of that dreadful day. When i gaze down at these cuts and bruises, they draw me back to a time where one injury took me out of the game I love for weeks.
Dust hovers in the air, like the morning fog as battered, mud-coated cars screech to a halt in the gravel parking lot. The sun beams down on the children scattered across stone baseball diamonds. Hostile screams of parents, coaches, and umpires fill the air as each team scrambles, attempting to gain the upper hand. I stand on first base, ready to steal second as soon as the next pitch is thrown. The pitcher makes his move toward the plate, and I take off for second. I dive to avoid the catcher’s throw. Crimson blood drips slowly down my leg, drenching the interior of my thick, grey pants. Pain sears in my knee as I stand up and clutch my wrist. It aches since I had crashed down on my outstretched hand while sliding safely into second base. I pay no attention to the bodily fluid running down my leg because I can’t keep my focus off of the nagging soreness pulsating throughout my wrist. My mind races, straining to picture what will happen when I attempt to pitch after our offensive stretch comes to a close. “Will I be able to endure the pain through the inning,” I ask myself, “or will the bones in my wrist crumble from the forces of my brisk movements?”
The home half is here, and my time to pitch has come. I get through the first few batters without a problem, but the burden of my tender wrist starts to get to my head. Up to this point, I have not thrown as hard as I can due to the fear of causing further harm to my wrist. I decide to give a full effort on the next pitch. The count is full. The rays of the burning sun plummet from the empty sky and sizzle on my skin. Tiny dewdrops of sweat drip down my face like the tears of a mother mourning a lost child. I step on the mound, raise my tattered glove to my face and take the sign from my catcher’s dust-coated fingers. My wrist throbs from the impact that occurred only minutes ago. I raise my leg in the air and prepare to reach back, acting like an outstretched rubber band, ready to fire the ball through the zone. I shift my weight forward and whip my arm down across my body, releasing the ball. A sharp, crippling pain erupts from my wrist and shoots down my arm. I caress my hand and groan in agony, not yet knowing that it would be weeks until I would throw a baseball again. I stand hunched over by the mound, absorbing the pain. My eyebrows scrunch together and point down at the ends. My mouth opens slightly, exposing my clenched teeth. Small, shiny tears moisten the edge of my eyes as I begin to realize what has happened. I hand the ball back to my coach and walk slowly back to the dugout to sit down. My head hangs down due to the overwhelming sadness and pain. My lips curl in anger. Why did this have to happen? I grow tired of sitting down and waiting, so I decide to try to swing a bat. I lay my fingers along the rubbery grip on my bat’s handle. I close my hand around it, causing pain to swell in my wrist. I quickly yank my hand back. Once again, I reach toward the bat, this time picking it up. The excruciating ache is unbearable, and I drop my bat and yelp. I sit back on the bench, trying to keep my arm as still as possible. Even the slightest movement causes a pang in my wrist.
When the game ends, my parents take me to get X-rays. I sit and wait, hoping my wrist is not sprained, or worse. Sure enough, the results show that I have a fracture in my wrist. The bone that is broken is away from blood flow, meaning it will take a while to heal and could eventually require surgery. After hearing this news, I started to feel more pain. This time, however, I feel a mental pain, because I know I will not be able to finish the season, and my team will have to go through the playoffs without me. One more scary thought creeps into my head: I may not be able to throw the ball the same ever again, especially if I need surgery.
Every time I look at the scrapes on my legs, I think of the time I could not play the game I love because of a simple broken bone. Even though I never needed surgery and I can still play the same as before, that moment was scary. I had to sit out during the most important time of the season and watch my teammates enjoy the game. The wounds I carry remind me to never take this wonderful sport for granted and to savor every moment that I am playing it.