24 straight hours of baseball. 12 games in a row. No sleep. Lots of pain. Three players sent to the hospital for X-rays (seriously). All in the name of $15,000 raised for charity. (And it's not too late...you can still make a donation!)
I should explain that initially, my idea was to bring a laptop into the dugout and do a live blog update every half hour. Unfortunately, we don't have a laptop...so that made it kind of difficult. Instead, what follows is an amalgam of some notes I took, my memories, and things I may or may not have imagined in a sleep-deprived state of delirium.
As you know, on Friday at noon, my colleagues and I began a charity event called 24 Hours of Baseball, and played straight through until noon the next day. "Sounds like fun," or "What a great idea" are the two responses I usually get when I explain the whole thing. I can assure you that it was neither.
OK, it was fun for the first oh, say, 10 hours or so. After that, "fun" wouldn't be one of my top ten words to describe it.
The stats and game details aren't all that important (except, of course, that I went 9-for-20 and was the only person to play in every single inning...unfortunately, .450 was not only my batting average, but I think my fielding percentage, as well). We won three games and tied one. The other eight games? Those aren't important either.
Here's a semi-time-stamped recap of some of the more memorable moments:
Friday, June 6 -- 11:45 am
- My teammates and I are getting stretched and warming up. Not Steve, though. ("We're about to play baseball for a whole day. I think I'll get pretty warmed up doing that.")
- My patented "bounce around and scream" motivational tactic seems to be having a mixed effect on my colleagues. Some look like they're getting fired up. Some are just laughing at me, and some look like they might be planning to kill me at some point in the next 24 hours. It's also tiring me out before we even get started. Not a good sign.
- We're underway! Taking on our arch-rivals, the Beat Writers. Mahoney is on the mound, and the team behind him is primed for the big day. We proceed to immediately make two errors and let up some unearned runs.
- After a walk in my first at-bat, in my second time to the plate, I crush a ball into the left-center gap. My first thought is "triple." As I near first base, my next thought is "oh God, I'm not going to make it to second base." It seemed like the harder I ran, the further away someone was moving second base. I pulled in with a double, did the Jose Reyes "point to the sky thing" and secretly wished someone would bring me some oxygen. Only 23 more hours to go!
- With the game well in hand (they don't call them the "Beat" Writers for nothing. We beat them every time they step on the field), my thoughts turned to more important things...like food.
"Hey Steve, when is lunch coming?"Friday, June 6 -- 2:oo pm
"I ordered some pasta and meatballs for about 6:00"
"Great! That's dinner. When is lunch coming?"
"I kind of thought 6:00 would be our first meal."
"So when is lunch coming?"
- Needless to say, food preparation was not one of our strengths. We bumped the Gargiulo's order up a few hours (BEST meatballs I've ever had in my life) and figured we'd play the rest by ear.
- Highlight of the day for me. My 2-year-old daughter came down on the field between games and ran around barefoot in the grass. She also proved that she catches better than most of the people on my team.
- We upped the level of competition from the Beat Writers and took on the 10-year-olds from Good Shepard Little League. We tried to intimidate the little buggers, er, Little Leaguers, by sending our very own Paul Bunyan, 6' 4" John Haley to the mound. It didn't work. They lit him up like a Christmas tree and went all Rickey Henderson on us, stealing at will and throwing our defense into (more) chaos. Eventually, Steve came in to pitch, struck out the side, and fired the ball off the mound like Turk Wendell...against 10-year olds. Even with his brilliance on the mound...against 10-year olds...it was no use. Remember that scene in Gremlins when Gizmo gets water on him and starts to multiply? That's what it was like. They were everywhere! Our first loss of the day. Many more to come.
- Steve, Brendan, and Gary all signed autographs after the game...before any of them even got their first hit!
- Don't remember much about this one. I know we made a thrilling comeback in the last inning to wind up with a tie, though. Rebecca and Liz both came up huge with bombs over a drawn-in infield (that'll teach them to try to show up the girls), and in the most unexpected development at the plate since Game Six, Ricky Viola got a hit (an actual hit!) to drive in two runs. He tucked the ball inside the first-base bag and down the right field line. One Shining Moment blared on the stadium speakers.
- Ouch. And I mean that in every way possible. This was the game when things took a decided turn for the worse. A few high throws reminded me that my shoulder was cracked. Steve removed his, ahem, "protective equipment" at exactly the wrong time, and in general, everyone started to move a little more slowly. A sampling of some of the quotes from the Cyclones dugout:
"My foot is killing me."Now is a good time to mention that RCN did a great thing, and donated $50 for every run we scored! This meant that even when we got smoked 13-4, we raised another $200 for great charities! Chris Nervegna got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and commented that, while his leg was throbbing and swollen, "it was worth it." The "money for runs" donation also gave us an added incentive to cross the plate even when we were beyond tired or a game was beyond reach (and led to over-used catch phrases like "Cha-ching!" "Fitty beans!" and "It's for the kids!"). Thank you again, RCN.
"My throat hurts."
"My back is tightening up."
"Does anyone have any Advil?"
"What time is it?"
"How much longer do we have?"
"Whose stupid idea was this, anyway?"
- It didn't help that we were getting absolutely crushed. We gave up 13 runs in the first two innings...before we got our first hit of the game! Eventually we scored a few runs and at least gave ourselves hope. Brendan told me "It's 13-4! Eight or nine home runs, and we're right back in this thing!" We did not hit eight or nine home runs.
Friday, June 6 -- 8:oo pm
- This was an interesting one. We took on a team from the Secret Service. Yes, that Secret Service. The guys who protect, and are trained to take a bullet for, the President of the United States. Not a group you want to challenge to physical activity. After an early lead, things went downhill. Mahoney stopped pitching after "only" eight hours, and I was forced to take the mound. Bad move. My right foot began to hurt after my first push off the mound (more on that later). I didn't really see the balls that were hit off me, so much as I heard them...and then saw the outfielders running towards the wall.
- In addition, my pain and frustration led to me flinging my helmet after making an out, and almost hitting the catcher in the head. The catcher for the Secret Service. The guys who protect the most powerful man on earth. I went over to apologize, and they joked that they knew who I was and where I lived, and they'd be keeping an eye on me from now on. They were joking, right? Right?
The next morning it was so bad that I actually considered the merits of a bedpan, rather than walking the 15 or so feet to my bathroom. My foot was so swollen and red that my wife made me go get it X-rayed. Negative. Grade II strain. 2 hours in the ER (and not the Must See TV kind). Great way to spend a Sunday morning. And you try explaining "24" to a doctor. I did it like this:
"What brings you in today, sir?"Friday, June 6 & Saturday, June 7 -- 10:oo pm - 2:00 am
- It all starts to blur together at this point. We whooped some members of the Borough President's office, despite the fact that they fielded 5 infielders and 4 outfielders. There was almost a catfight caused by a foul ball in the dugout. Kimberlee had to explain to her fiancee why she was rooting for him to lose. Liz went into hiding so she could sleep a little and not get hotfooted/shaving creamed/tied to the foul pole/hand placed in warm water/wake up in the parking lot. I had to pitch again, against a team full of supposed minor leaguers (although I doubt that. 9 out of 10 guys who played organized baseball at any point in their life will tell you they played in the minors or were scouted/drafted. It's like the pitcher in the second game who was telling anyone who'd listen that he was clocked at 90 MPH a few years back. He just forgot to mention that he was in a Nissan on the Belt Parkway at the time).
- The Gargiulo's crew hits the field. These guys know how to have a good time. Before I knew it, I was eating a mozzarella, prociutto, and peppers sandwich, and listening to R-rated play-by-play on the PA! Apparently, they also know how to hit. Rocket after rocket sailed into the outfield, so I went to the mound to talk to our pitcher, and give him some emotional and mental support:
Steve: "Every ball is ripped. What am I doing wrong?"Saturday June 7 -- 4:00 am
- Tim (Wall Hooky Hero) Nelson was asleep on the bench. I wanted to light him on fire, but was reminded that he and the other Tim (Big Groundsy Hillert) had been catching every other game, and deserved a rest. Without them, one of us would be called into catching duty, and that was not an option.
- One of my proudest baseball moments. After almost fainting, throwing up, and thinking my colon may have exploded, I made my way back from the lavatory just in time to put my helmet on and get my at-bat. Double down the line.
- Line of the day: After making an out, Ricky screamed at the pitcher "Congratulations! You beat a guy that's 90% dead!"
- The re-birth of a legend. Steve decided that he would take over the pitching duties, and revitalized his career by using the Gyroball. At least he says it was a Gyroball. The rest of us call it a lob that loops over the strike zone and into the catcher's mitt...the kind that is against every rule of the playground. But whatever. It worked. And "Dice-Co" was born. Lucky for Steve, Gary cracked a rib and was on the bench for the last 10 hours, so he had plenty of time to evaluate talent and file his reports to the scout's bureau, so Steve is now awaiting a call from Omar Minaya as a righty specialist out of the bullpen.
- The sun came up over the leftfield wall. Pretty cool sight to see baseball being played at sunrise.
- Other than that, I have no clue what happened during these hours.
- The finish line is in sight. One more Little League team -- full of boundless energy, of course -- and then we're done.
- I wasn't about to let up, though. I gotta get my hits. I ripped a ball over the right fielder's head...and hobbled into first base just before the throw. The first baseman -- a sixth grader -- looks at me and says, I kid you not:
"You look terrible. How long have you been out here?"
"Since noon yesterday."
His response summed it all up: "That's hell."
- These Little Leaguers beat us, too. A fitting way to end the last 24 Hours of Baseball ever. Do you hear me, Steve? I am never doing this again...ever. No matter what. Never. Ever. And in case I wasn't clear...Never.
"I feel awful. Absolutely awful. I've never felt worse in my life."In all seriousness, I'm extremely proud of what we accomplished, and extremely proud to be a part of this squad. This staff is filled with talented, creative, dedicated people who give everything they have - literally, everything - to the Cyclones. We hope everyone enjoys what we do, and continues to support Brooklyn baseball. We have lots more up our sleeves this summer, and we're looking forward to seeing you at the ballpark! Opening Day is just about a week away. But for now, I'm going back to sleep.
-- Tim Nelson, C
"This was probably one of the stupidest things the Cyclones have ever done...and we've done some very stupid things...but hopefully we helped some kids."
-- Joyce Huang, OF
"I don't care how many kids we helped. I'm never doing this again."
-- Pat Toy, 1B
"This is the most draining, brain numbing thing I've ever done for a good cause."
-- John Haley, 1B
"I'm delusional and delirious right now, and I have no thoughts to give you"
-- Rishi Ragbir, OF
"I always enjoy time to bond with my colleagues, and meet new people. Bringing happiness to the world is always my goal, and I feel like we did that today."
-- Kevin Mahoney, P
(Just kidding...what he really said was unprintable and illegal in 37 states.)
"I'd rather drink gasoline and pee on a brushfire than ever do anything like this again."
-- Ricky Viola, OF
"I think it was great and I can't wait to do it again next year!"
-- Rebecca Schwartz, 2B
"It was the time of my life. Let's never do it again."
-- Brendan McKeon, OF
-- Maverick, Wonder Dog
"Now that the shakes and headaches have worn off, I'm looking foward to a hot shower and some sleep."
-- Elizabeth Lombardi, OF
"I'm happy to be leaving the ballpark, but a little upset that I'll be driving directly to the hospital."
-- Gary Perone, 2B
In the meantime, you can watch highlights of 24 on BCTV!