Friday, November 17, 2006

Men in Green

I’ve joined the Beida baseball team. I went to my first practice on Wednesday, and today I was starting at shortstop and batting third. It’s a relatively recent arrival in China, and certainly not popular like it is in Japan. The team itself is a sort of club team—they aren’t funded by the school, and they have to fight for crappy field space… which sounds sort of familiar, now that I think about it. They do manage to have games against other Beijing university club teams, and I’ll be playing in my first one tomorrow.

Nearly five years removed from the last time I picked up a bat, my calluses are coming back slowly and painfully. Everything else, though, snapped back like it was last week. All the muscle memory behind swinging a bat, throwing a ball, fielding a grounder… it came back quickly and joyfully. My teammates probably take me for some kind of idiot, because I couldn’t wipe a huge smile off my face through a good portion of our 3-hour scrimmage this afternoon. It’s been too long, and I love this game.

They practice twice a week, for four hours—it’s a lot, but it’s a good way to fill up afternoons that have become increasingly long and empty. I can also persuade myself that I’m making good use of my China-time, because I’m hanging out almost exclusively with REAL CHINESE PEOPLE. Certainly, one of Baseball’s advantages over silly sports like soccer is that it’s a social game, and you spend at least half your time hanging around, scratching yourself, spitting and, under normal circumstances, talking with your teammates. I’m not quite managing that last bit, but I can understand more and more of what they’re saying, and when I have an urgent thought, I can usually make myself understood.

During practice today, a film crew showed up and started shooting the practice. As usual, it took them about 10 minutes before the producer called me aside to get some special footage. I’m not totally clear what the video was for, but she gave me a brief on what she wanted me to say, and I think I more or less understood what she wanted. So I introduced myself, and gave the 10 second explanation of how I had found the baseball team, and was very happy to be playing with them at Beijing University. My brief speech had the whole film crew in stitches, but it seems my content was clear enough to satisfy them, and I went back to hitting home runs.

Above, the police in Tiananmen Square are humorless, to say the least. Below, a slightly photoshopped picture of a crazy looking Yam guy outside the East gate of Beida. I have no idea what his gang-sign means, so don't ask.


Blogger amcanannie said...

Hi Sam! Your film crew story has me laughing about our own little 10 minutes of fame in they asked us to do a sample lesson before the cameras and a hundred people on 2 minute's notice: "do you have a Mom and a Dad?" "Why yes, do you?" :)

18/11/06 11:16 AM  

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