Softball Changes Lives
So sometimes to understand how something becomes special, you need to know the whole story. When I was younger, I was held back in the second grade. All my peers had moved up. This stuck with me as I was growing up. The message that I received from this was that I was not as good as my peers. I played little league and soccer until I was about 10. I really wasn’t very good at sports as I was very skinny.
When I got older though, I grew up in a nice community but my household was a bit chaotic. My older siblings were getting in trouble and my dad had had enough of the home dynamic and had left. I was kind of left to my own devices without much guidance in my life. When I hit JR. Highschool (which in Davis was 7th grade) I started to find people noticed me. Unfortunately this was for all the wrong reasons. I had discovered alcohol and lighter drugs. I had been suicidal that was partially addressed. At 14 I discovered meth.
By the time I was 15 I had been kicked out of multiple schools and there was no controlling me. My mom had given up and told me get a job or get out. I floated through menial jobs, smoking crack, PCP, ecstasy and LSD. At 18 I had started working for a roofing company that had a lot of ex-cons, so the access to drugs became even easier.
After floating through life moving to Utah to try and straighten up, then moving back home, things got worse. We had discovered smoking the meth produced a stronger high. Not only myself but many others found new lows we never knew were possible.
I started getting arrested for petty crimes in the early 90’s but addiction is a progressive disease. After several arrests and stints in the county jail, I graduated to the big time. December 15th, 1995 is a day I will never forget. 150 pound goofy me was admitted to the California Department of Corrections at San Quentin State Prison. I was walked into west block and the 5 foot signs on the wall read “ Caution, no warning shots fired in this unit.” There were several gunners walking the catwalks watching over us.
I was transferred up in February to Pelican Bay State Prison. I was then sent out to a lower custody yard where we had jobs and more freedoms. It was here that I joined the softball league that they had. I played first base and hit ok. When I was released later that year I had high hopes of a successful transition back to society. Things don’t always go as we plan as I found myself high again and on the run in Utah getting arrested again. After years of going back to prison, getting out, getting high and going back on progressively worse crimes, I finally got some help. Throughout the years in and out of prison I would find the softball people and play when I could. After getting out of Salinas Valley State Prison in early 2004 I had gotten high again but started realizing that doing life on the installment plan was going to become life soon.
After 3 months of freedom, I ended up in Folsom State Prison offshoot yard to go through a drug rehab program. This was the first time I really tried to apply myself to something of this nature. Once again though, addiction rose it’s ugly head and I had gotten some weed. After getting high that night I pondered the thought of "if I can’t stay clean in prison what chance do I have outside?" I woke up the next morning, August 14th, 2004 and I have never smoke, drank or used another mind altering substance since.
I was released around October 18th 2004. I really can’t remember the exact date at this point. I went to a transitional home where I had 90 days to figure it out. I was working for a landscape company digging holes for $9 an hour. I enrolled in the local community college and was on my way.
A guy I used to run around with years back had about 4 years of sobriety under his belt and played softball. He put me on his team and helped me navigate life outside. As the college classes switched what nights I went each semester, I had to broaden my horizons and find new teams to play on.
I worked hard moving up in the world in different jobs, played softball , started rediscovering my love of baseball and watching that. As time went on I had to figure out who I was, because when you are doing drugs, all you truly cared about was the drugs.
I met Meghan and she had her son Carlos who was 4. In 2007 Meghan and I got married and she started to play softball with me. I played more and more over the years we sometimes played 5 nights a week after I had finished my Associates Degree in Anthropology. I have never used it, but it has definitely helped me out in the advancement of my career.
Fast forward to 2021 I had found Unicorn Sports while running a coed team in Sacramento called Unicornasaurses-rexes. I instantly took to it ordering jerseys. I saw the fall draft and thought it looked fun. When the opening for spring came up I signed us up. We came home having one of the best times of our lives.
For me softball has been fun over the years I am a full throttle type guy. It has also been a place of conflict for me. I have a hard time maintaining close relationships and still have to remind myself that fighting is not considered an acceptable resolution to conflict.
When the fall dates had been announced I had been so bummed as it was the same weekend as Vegas Senior Worlds. I had decided to sign up with my 50’s team to go to Vegas. As we got closer I saw that the amount of players that was going was more than I was willing to take the trip with. It was about 3 and a half weeks before the draft I emailed Ashley to see if any spots were open. Much to my surprise I was not only able to get Meghan and I both spots, but we were on the same team.
We got to Raleigh and Thursday night with a beautiful purple and red sunset, Meghan got to play in the champions vs the crew game. Friday we made the trip to Roseboro and played 2 awesome games in the rain. We left the fields with 3 wins. Saturday we showed up to an amazing ballpark to play.
We won our first game and waited. During our second game I took a ball off the fingertip and bled like crazy. We taped it up put some spray glue on and was back at it. We played one more game in which it still kept bleeding so afterwards, Meghan made me go to the ER to get it looked at. It turns out I had been playing with a broken finger.
We got back to the hotel around 12:30am with the alarm set for 6am to get back to business. It was when Meghan woke up and had found several messages that Carlos her son, my step-son, had been killed in a motorcycle accident. He was 20 years old with a 6 month old baby daughter. I had messaged Dalton who had already found a sub for me that we might need one for Meghan as well. Meghan decided with a heavy heart that she needed to finish the tournament. The love and support from the sinister society, the crew, and all the other players was a blessing to have. There was no better place we could have been to have received the devastating news that had come. Due to my background I have always considered crying a form of weakness yet here I stood with a tearstained face on the side of the ballfield holding my wife between her playing.
I can’t thank everyone enough for the love and support we received that day. This is what not only softball can mean as a community, but no other softball tournament in the world could come together and support some of it’s own as the Family Draft did.
12/11/2011 - 10/1/2022