Eye Catching Fun

Posted in Eternal Love | 4 comments

Once the football season ended, Frank started coaching basketball and refereeing other basketball games when his team was not on the court playing.  I think he loved refereeing as much as coaching, and he did not seem to mind running up and down the court.  Sometimes Frank would make a call that did not suit the fans, but he did not let it bother him.

When Frank’s basketball team was playing, Scotty and I were always in the stands watching, but if not, I helped out in the concession stand with Scotty by my side.  Watching him referee games was an exciting experience too. I think that his favorite sport was basketball, but only slightly over football.

Frank, Scotty, and I were attending the Methodist Church in Hubbard, and I was teaching Sunday School classes.  The Methodist Church in Hubbard is a beautiful church and very old. The church had a wall which looked like mahogany and, and it separated the classrooms from the sanctuary. The wall had a mechanism which could raise the wall, up and down, taking it from the ground floor to the second floor.

Woman, Boy, Super Beetle in the snow

Scotty and I standing in the snow by our Super Beetle in Hubbard, Tx 1977

Early in the Winter of 1977, Hubbard had a beautiful snowstorm.  The snow blanketed the town making, it a beautiful winter wonderland of white.  Frank, Scotty, and I thought it was beautiful, and we went outside built a snowman, made snowballs to throw at each other, and made snow ice cream. As a child, I had lived where there were frequent snowstorms in the Winter.  Frank was not acquainted with the powdery white stuff, and it was the first snow that Scotty had ever seen or touched.

We were having a great time living in Hubbard and had gotten to know so many new people. Frank made sure that Scotty and I were involved in everything he was doing, which made us very happy. Of course, Frank loved to volunteer me for anything that he thought I might be interested in doing. For some reason, he had a way of talking me into doing anything he volunteered me to do. Thinking it had to do with those “dang dimples” of his.  Since he knew that I loved sports as much as he did, the next story is about a new challenge he volunteered and talked me into doing.

“Eye Catching”

In early Spring of 1977, Frank came in from school then found me in the kitchen fixing supper.  I was standing at the counter when he came up behind me, hugged me tightly, then said, “I have a question for you, Lou.”

Not being able to see his face, there was no way to tell if the mischievous dimples were blossoming, but I could tell by the sound of his voice that this was a “dimple-faced” smiling question.  It had been a while since Frank had used his “dimple-faced” routine on me, so I was surprisingly excited while wondering what he had volunteered me for this time.

Knowing if I turned to face him then saw those dang dimples that, he would convince me to do whatever, I decided not to turn around and look at Frank.  While just enjoying him hugging me, I continued to peel the potatoes while asking him, “Frank Henderson, what did you volunteer me for now?”

Chuckling, Frank spun me around to face him, then said, “Lou, you are the new head coach for the sixteen through eighteen-year-old girls fastpitch softball team!  Cool, right?”

If I remember right, my mouth dropped wide open.  Frank knew that I had played hardball with my brothers, softball in PE classes while in junior high and high school, and he knew my love for the game, but I knew nothing about fastpitch softball.  Although, while we were living in La Pryor, the head coach would practice fast pitching a softball while Frank caught.  Scotty and I would watch them, and it was all that Frank could do to catch the ball.  After an afternoon of catching, Frank would end up with a bruised palm.

The motion of the head coach’s arm when he pitched, was like a whirling windmill, and then he would quickly slap his hip then release the ball like reaching to shake someone’s hand. While practicing fast pitching, the head coach could throw a curveball, slider, knuckleball, and place the ball anywhere over the plate he wanted it to be.

With my mind  still whirling in awe of what Frank had just said, I had questions that needed answers, so I asked, “Frank, how did this all come about?”

Frank smiled knowing he had me hook, line and sinker, then answered, “Nancy, usually only men coach the girl’s fastpitch teams, but the girls have decided that they want a woman coach, so I told them that you would do it. Of course, I told them I would ask you if you would do it.”

Smiling back at him, knowing what he had told the girls, but also understanding the word, ‘ask’ was not involved in his conversation with them, I had come up with a plan too, then I said, “Okay Frank, I will do it but only if you help in your spare time which means every practice.”

Frank agreed, so now he, Scotty, and I had a baseball team.  The baseball practice field was only about eight blocks from our home, and it was a dirt field.  When first practice came around, it ended up that I knew most of the girls from the drill team and the girl’s basketball team.  After a week of softball practice, one thing I knew for sure was that these girls were very good at playing fastpitch softball.

Although knowing the technique for pitching in fastpitch softball, I had never pitched a softball using the method.  Well, these girls had played fastpitch softball for years and certainly knew how to windup their arms to throw the ball. The more I watched or caught the pitchers while they pitched, the abler I was to help tweak their pitches.  Other than the way the ball was pitched, the rest of the game seemed played the same way. When I had played softball, the positions mainly played by me when not pitching were first base or center field, but I knew a lot about the other infield positions.

One of the girls, who pitched and played shortstop, was a real tomboy.  She could bruise your hand easily when catching her thrown ball.  Some of the girls would turn their heads not watching the softball while trying to make the catch if she was throwing it to them.  I knew that if they did not look at the ball that it was quite possible, they would get hit by the ball in the head or other places, so we worked on getting rid of the fear factor.

About two weeks into practices, the baseball board called a meeting of all of the coaches.  Since it was the first time for me to meet with the guys, I decided to call a short practice.  While I worked with the infield on their throw to first base, Frank hit balls to the outfield which were to be thrown to home plate and caught by the catcher.  The first base girl was new to that position, so I decided to show her how the base was played by taking the throws from other infield players.

Suddenly, Frank hit a short ball that went to the shortstop, and the third base girl had received a ball to throw to me. Both girls threw the softballs to first base. I caught the third base girl’s thrown softball in my glove, but my right eye caught the shortstop’s ball.

Immediately, I dropped my glove and put my hand over my eye. My eye hurt so bad that it took my breath away.  At the time, I wore hard contact lens, and there was no time to waste because I knew the contact lens in my right eye had to come out as quickly as possible because my eye was swelling. Immediately, Frank ran to me and helped me to open the eye then get the contact lens out.  One of the girls brought the container of ice water that we always had with us at the field, and Frank poured it on my face and eye.

As Frank and Scotty helped me to the car,  he told the girls that practice was over then as fast as he could drive, we went to the Emergency Room.  The ER doctor examined my eye then said to us that the eye was not damaged because my browbone and cheekbone had taken the brunt of the softball.  Although, the doctor said that if it had been a hardball, it could have been a different outcome.  He told to put ice on it to keep the swelling down, but that I would have a big old blackeye.

Frank, Scotty, and I arrived home about thirty minutes before the baseball board meeting.  With an ice bag on my face, I went into our bedroom then started getting ready for the meeting.  Frank came into the room then said, “Nancy Lou, what are you doing?  Where do you think you’re going?  I suggest that you get into the bed and lay down with that ice bag on your eye.”

Continuing to get ready, I answered, “Frank, I have to go to the meeting.  Those guys already think that I don’t know what I’m doing.  I’m going.”

Shaking his head knowing that he could not win this battle with me, Frank took another route saying, “You know, Nancy, you’re not going to be able to drive with that eye like that.  How about I drive you there then Scotty, and I can sit in on the meeting just in case you want to leave early?”

Frank knew the guys might say something or laugh when they saw my eye, he was going to be there to make sure it did not happen, but I knew that for them to respect me as a coach,  I had to make sure he did not say anything.

While putting on my sunglasses, I told Frank, “Frank, you can drive me, but promise me you will not interfere no matter was is said to me. You know that I have to earn those guys respect on my own.”

Frank agreed with me, then he, Scotty, and I got into the car and went to the meeting.  As we walked into the meeting, all of the men there greeted us. Nobody acted like it was weird that I had a massive pair of sunglasses on my face.  I was taken back by them not noticing but relieved that they had not, and they treated me with total respect.

At the end of the meeting, the head of the board asked me to stand up and take off my sunglasses.  Frank jumped to his feet as I stood up while taking off my sunglasses, but I gave Frank a look that was unmistakable and meant for him not to interfere.

The head of the board told everyone in the room to look at my eye then he told me, “Mrs. Henderson, my daughter told me what happen to you today at practice.  She said that you didn’t cry or scream when she threw that ball that hit your eye.  You know something, Mrs. Henderson, that girl of mine throws a mean hard softball.  I don’t even like to catch her myself.  Thinking you’re going to fit in with us just fine. Welcome to the team.”

The room filled with clapping as everyone stood, and I quickly put my sunshades back on my face to hide the tears welling up in my eyes as I told them, “Thank you.”

Knowing that I needed to leave, Frank came to my side then told them that he thought it would be a good idea if he took me home to get more ice on my eye, and with that said, Frank, Scotty, and I left the meeting.

The black eye healed, the girls won a lot of games, and most importantly, we all had a great time making memories.

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  1. Great story, Nancy. I love your spirit, spunk, and grit.

    • Thank you so much, Mary Rae. I love the same things about you. We are definitely sisters in spirit, spunk, and grit. I wish you lived close by because we would have an amazing time together.
      God Bless You,

  2. Eye catching…literally! LOL… a wonderful story…wonderful memories too, I’m sure….and yet another time when silence, (this time on your husband’s part) was golden.

    • Absolutely, Kim. He knew that I had to go to the meeting and handle it by myself, but his love for me would not let him stay home. I am so thankful that he did not have to defend me. Frank had no patience with someone intentionally hurting my feelings, and I felt the same way about him. Our love for each was so deep, but we allowed each other to grow as a separate individual and become independently strong. Thus, as his widow for twenty-two years, I have been able to thrive. Of course, I know he has that Angel help me power now. LOL
      Thank you for commenting.
      God Bless My Good Buddy,
      Nancy Lou

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