On a warm Tuesday evening in late June, I watched my 400 Club softball team warming up near the tennis courts at spacious Roosevelt Park. As I made out the lineup for our 6:45 pm game with Pasquali’s Bar, I noticed Matt Montemurro making his way from one teammate to the next. It was obvious that the young outfielder was the one doing most of the talking and all of the conversations ended with a mutual nod of the head and often a pat on the back. When it became evident what Matt was doing, a smile broke out on my chubby face and I went back to working on my batting order.
The reason I was smiling was because Matt had taken the advice I had given him in a phone conversation we had had earlier that afternoon. Based on our discussion, the talented ballplayer was apologizing for what he had done the previous weekend.
Let me explain what Matt had done.
The Thursday before that eventful weekend, our 400 Club team had decided to play in a tournament in Whitewater. When Matt heard that we were playing, he begged off, saying he was getting “burned out” and needed a weekend off. I said fine, we would fine someone to take his place.
If that were all that had happened, I wouldn’t be writing this story.
Our first tourney game had just finished and our team was making its’ across the parking lot to the bar for some “lunch” when Matt’s flashy sports car suddenly appeared. Screeching to a halt, Matt hopped out of the car and cheerfully asked, “How did you guys do?”
Not too many of us heard Matt’s question. We were too busy staring at the Tirabassi uniform he was sporting. Evidently he wasn’t too “burned out” to play in a tournament in Janesville with archrival Tirabassi.
After the initial shock wore off, the response from his 400 Club teammates was less than cordial. After the burly Munk Ekern menacingly blurted out, “Get the f**k out of here!”, I suggested to Matt that he had better heed Ekern’s advice. He did so, and an even more ugly scene was avoided.
Those are the events that led to Matt making that phone call to yours truly prior to our Tuesday game with Pasquali’s Bar.
The first words out of Matt’s mouth were, “That was stupid of me. Am I still on the team?” After I reassured him that he was indeed still on the team, his next question was, “Is it fair to assume that I am not starting tonight?” After chuckling, I told him that was an accurate assumption and then suggested he apologize to the rest of the team before the game.
With all the drama behind us, the game started with Matt on the bench and proceeded as most of our games with Pasquali’s Bar typically did…we were kicking their ass. Matt being a good soldier, eagerly coached third base and enthusiastically cheered on his teammates.
With our team preparing to bat in the bottom of the fourth inning, a well-intentioned Bruce Edmark emphatically told me, “Puddles, Mattie has learned his lesson.” With chewing tobacco dripping down hi chin, he added firmly, “Now get him in the game!”
Eddie, be careful what you ask for…
With the emotional Edmark staring at me, I nodded in concurrence and said, “Bruce you are right, Matt has learned his lesson. He should be in the game!” I then turned toward Matt and bellowed, “Matt get in there. You’re batting for Eddie and playing left-center.”
Edmark, realizing that he had, in effect, just taken himself out of the game, slapped himself in the forehead and uttered a loud, “Doh!” Matt then hit a long double, a shaken Edmark was relegated to coaching third and the 400 Club went on to defeat Pasquali’s Bar by a rather large margin.
What started out as a potentially terrible situation was resolved and the topsy-turvy world of the 400 Club was now back to normal. Well, as close to normal as it could possibly be.
Until next time…from the booth.