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We’ve all made mistakes. But if we’re lucky, we have at least one mistake that turned out right, a favorite mistake. My best mistake happened during a Bobby Sox Softball playoff game when I was 13.

baseball glove and ball

The mistake that won the game

My older sister was an ace at softball, one of the best first base players in the Bobby Sox Softball league in our small, Southern California farming town. She played on the team that made it to the All Stars the previous season, and my parents suggested (more like insisted) that I play softball too. On the same team.

That was the beginning of a season-long mistake. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t totally suck at softball.

I was pretty good hitter, and a fair infielder. I was not All Stars material, though. When you join a team of that caliber, you have to prove yourself. Which is why they put me in the outfield. Unfortunately, I had a depth perception problem at night games. On top of that, the fly balls kept disappearing against the banks of bright white lights and swarms of bugs as big as my shoe. I missed every fly ball hit my way in the outfield. Game, after game, after game.

In spite of the public humiliation, I made every practice and played every game. The team needed a certain number of players to stay in the league, and by showing up I kept them in the running. I ‘took one for the team’…every week. Amazingly enough, even with my outfield fails our team still ended up tied for first place in the league.

On the night of the playoff game, the coach kept me on the bench until the last possible moment. Each player had to play at least one inning in every game, so he waited until it was safe for me to go in. We were ahead by a two runs. We just had to hold our lead. How hard could that be? Apparently, very…with my luck.

The other team was pumped, and got a run before we knew what fly ball at night gamehappened. Not long after, the bases were loaded with two outs. That’s when they brought in their best hitter. I prayed for mercy, but she was on break. When this girl connected with the ball, the crack resonated across two counties. A blur came whizzing straight at me. A line drive to my face. I didn’t have time to blink. I put my mitt up to protect myself. I wish I could say I tried to catch the ball. But no. Putting the mitt in front of my face was pure self-defense. The ball slammed into my hand with a burning thud and I clamped the mitt shut.

I caught the ball that won the game and the league championship…by mistake!

That was the only ball I caught the entire season. I’m glad it was one that saved the game…even if it was by mistake.