Obit for the O Team
And so, four years after my last season, the O Team is gone, just like the fields we played on. But we had a nice run. Certainly we had the best writers in the league--and could have won annually if they gave out trophies for spelling and grammar. But some years we played ball surprisingly well too. Ami Walsh, a fine author and former tennis pro, swung the bat like a racket and excelled at placing shots down either baseline. Novelist Valerie Laken played second base with almost as much verve and gutsy determination as her paragraphs. Science writer Ken Garber demonstrated the chemistry of a sweet left-handed stroke. Observer proofreader Bob Wischmeyer batted over .500 well into his seventies. And editor John Hilton contributed his catchy cheer: "Excellent fielding, excellent prose!"
One magical summer we were a juggernaut, undefeated despite several wrenched backs, bum legs, and one player, Observer contributor Mary Jean Babic, who lugged a fetus around the bases. On the ball the team members autographed at the end of the year and gave to their manager (me), she memorably wrote: "Old, injured, pregnant--and 10-0."
These days, ball diamonds sit empty most of the summer. Try to find a playground now where neighborhood kids are bringing their mitts and bats to play ball. At parks that used to host frequent softball games, like Allmendinger and Virginia, it's rare to see anyone swinging a bat anymore.