M. Peevie's softball team, the Hurricanes, were making a valiant effort to pull out a win in the last game of the season. They were down 3-1, and the Orange Crush were (was?) up to bat.
Being down by only two runs was already sort of a victory. We had often found ourselves down by 30, 40, even 50 runs this season--so we could already taste the sweet, sweet honey of not being slaughtered.
But the girls really wanted to record an actual statistical win, not just a moral victory; and they were in ready position, gloves on the ground, chanting support for the pitcher, hoping to make a big play that would end the inning.
The Orange Crush batter hit an infield fly, which soared up over the pitcher's head, making a high arc toward the short stop. It moved in slow motion; we held our breath.
Just as the ball plopped into her glove, a fan from the other team yelled, "Drop it!"
She held onto the ball, and ended the inning. Phew. But now there was the matter of poor sportsmanship from the adult fans on the sidelines, which I could not let pass without a correction. I got out my brass knuckles and headed over to the group of Orange Crush parents and grandparents, ready to teach somebody a lesson.
"Did somebody over here yell out, 'Drop it!'? I asked pleasantly. I looked at the most likely culprits, what looked like a grandpa, plus two other adults sitting on the fan bench. I expected a conflict, because sometimes--you may not have noticed this--people are stupid. But instead:
"Yes, he did," the woman on the bench said, not disclosing which guy made the comment. "And we told him that it was not acceptable. It won't happen again. Sorry about that."
Oh. Well then. That was exactly right.
"Oh," I said, "Well, thank you for that. We appreciate it." I walked back to our bench and told the team, who had heard the heckle, that the guy had been corrected by his own people. End of story, time to concentrate on getting some hits.
But it wasn't the end of the story. A few minutes later, the grandpa walked over to our bench. He walked straight up to me and looked me in the eye. "It was me," he said. "I was the one who said, 'Drop it!'." I shouldn't have said it, it was wrong, and I'm very sorry."
I practically burst into tears. I grabbed his hand and shook it, and said, "It was really good of you to come over here and say that. It's very honorable, and I appreciate you doing that." He said again that he was sorry; he was caught up in the game; and he knew it was wrong. "We all do and say things that we shouldn't," I said, "but very few people step up to take responsibility. You are a good man."