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Thursday, August 06 2015 16:18

Among the athletic events that I remember from my high school years, one stands out most vividly in memory. I have been moved to mention it more often than any other from those long-ago days.

It came during the springtime of my senior year. Nothing else, it seemed, would ever rival what I managed to bring off on this occasion.

And nothing else of the sort would ever happen to me again. No wonder I still glory in it some seventy years later.

What happened was this: I pitched a no-hitter.

But wait. This alleged athletic accomplishment is not a fact, though I’ve thought it was for many decades.  As recently as a month ago I mentioned it to two college baseball players, a pitcher and a catcher, who were duly impressed by my disclosure.

The truth was revealed when I happened to pick up my long-neglected yearbook from 1947. There I found the authentic score of the game: 23 – 2.

My opponents, coming from a nearby school called Sacred Heart, got only four singles against me and suffered ten strikeouts.  But that could hardly justify calling the game a no-hitter as I have done for the last 68 years.

Lest you think my boasting unreasonable, let me call attention to at least one other factor at play. The game in question was the only varsity game that I ever started. 

Up to that point, I had played only for the junior varsity. On this occasion, our coach had decided to give me a chance at doing what he had never allowed me to do before.

Nobody mentioned it, but I could never lift my left arm above my head or stop a baseball that came quickly to my left side. That fact made me vulnerable to line drives coming back at me.

 This physical fact, dating from birth, created risk as I faced hitters.  On that occasion, however, the coach may have felt that the opposing batters posed little danger to me.

Bob McNabb, he best pitcher on our team, would have been wasted on such opponents. The speed of his fastball dazzled me when I watched him perform. We almost always won.

The field where my teammates and I played is long gone. So is the school building itself. And most of my classmates have since left this world.

I miss the friends who teased me, pointing out the inadequacies of the other team. Their version of events was that any the batters on the other team were opthamologically challenged.

In fact, they were not, but they were consistently baffled by what I threw at them. Those boys remained unable to do much of anything with my pitches.  My curve balls simply defied swings. And the would-be hitters kept giving up in frustration.

Another feature of this memorable game was the double I managed to hit. Man and boy will have forgotten this notable feat by now, but not me.  I still see my line drive darting past the right fielder, defying his efforts to stop it.

But still, they got four hits against me. Granted, they were all only singles, but they counted.  The yearbook still says “Griff was always in command of the situation.” But my victory was not absolute.

The moral of this tale comes painfully to mind.  You cannot presume on being right about the events of long ago.  Even those happenings that have seemed clear facts, may not be so. Closer analysis may disclose them as uncertain, if not quite wrong.

I blush to admit my error, a durable one that bears witness to the power of wishful thinking.