by Kevin Burton
Last week I got and filled a trophy case. Next week, my play will probably not add any hardware to it.
But you never know.
You never know. That’s why the games are played on green grass under a blue sky, not on a computer. That’s why old men squeeze into tight pants to rev up their engines and shake a little.
When my mother’s china cabinet came to my house last week because she moved to a much smaller place, it instantly became a trophy case. The tight pants transform me into something from the medium-distant past.
In less than a week I will suit up for the USA Legends, for my old Columbus Vipers coach Rob Weigand. The National Beep Baseball Association World Series is returning to Wichita for the first time since 1979, I believe. After a five-year absence, I will be in uniform.
I’m honored that somebody asked me to play after so much time off. Another honor came when the draw for the round-robin part of the tournament was announced.
We play three games Tuesday, vs Tyler, San Antonio and Florida. The San Antonio pitcher is longtime Austin Blackhawks star Kevin Sibson. He really should be called Blackhawks legend, but Legends the name of our team, not his, and that would be confusing.
But the L-word is more fitting for a man of his accomplishments.
I am thrilled to be able to play against him one last time. Sibson is retiring from pitching after this series, according to published reports.
Sibson was unequalled as a pitcher when I started in the league full time in 1995. His Blackhawks defeated Ft. Worth in the championship final both of my first years in the league.
Watching those two teams play on championship Saturdays was a revelation. It almost seemed as if they were playing a different game than the one we were playing in Columbus. The defenses were a thing of beauty and inspired me that much, much more was possible in beep baseball.
And Sibson was the engine that drove home those titles. He has nine total NBBA championships. As dominant as the Indy Thunder has been lately, I wouldn’t put it past Sibson to retire with an even ten championships by winning this one.
Of course he’ll face a stern test at 11:30 Tuesday when his Jets face us.
Buuuut seriously folks……
A little context here for those who might be more familiar with say, world football than with beep baseball: Saying San Antonio will get a stern test from us is like saying Bayern Munich would get a stern test from Charlton Athletic. It could happen, but the smart money is going the other way. But you never, never know.
Though Kevin Sibson stands out as I mentioned, really it’s an honor to play anybody, to be a part of a great tradition. We’re having fun, making a statement about the capabilities of blind people. The World Series is a big time competition but it is also a huge family reunion. We didn’t have that reunion last year, which makes this year even more special.
You can’t spell Legends without E-N-D. This venture has been painted as a one-shot coda to the careers of many of us. Sometimes minds can change though. It has happened before.
Beep baseball players “retire” the way boxers do. They keep coming back.
After a World Series ends and the awards banquet is over there is always a gathering of players. Some are recruiting players from other teams for next year. Some are trying to be recruited. Some talk retirement.
I almost never believe a player who says he or she is retiring. I truly thought I had played my last game years ago but here I am again.
Guess you don’t really retire from family though, do you?