Column: Action-packed game of donkeyball not for the timid

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2001

I watched our third baseman being bucked off and landing flat on his back.

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

I watched our third baseman being bucked off and landing flat on his back. Dust rose from his recumbent body. I remember thinking that he was going to feel that the next day.

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Somebody yelled for me to mount up. I didn’t want to mount up. I watched another teammate, tired of the constant bucking of his steed, slide off the rear end of his ride and nearly being kicked for his trouble. I did get into the saddle, so to speak. I had to. Lots of people were watching.

My softball team was involved in a game of donkeyball. It was a fundraiser. We were playing the game from the backs of donkeys – stubborn and strong creatures. The bases were run while on the back of a donkey. Defense was played while on the back of a donkey. Panic set in while on the back of a donkey.

You were given a test before you were allowed to play such a game. Someone would shine a flashlight in one ear and if the light came out the other ear, you could play.

Plastic bats and whiffle balls were the tools of the game. My donkey was a small one. The organizers of the game, in their infinite wisdom, gave big old me the smallest of the donkeys. I clumsily crawled onto the back of the beast. If there had been a saddle involved, I would not have been riding tall in it. My feet dragged upon the ground. Happy trails to me.

Playing softball on the back of a donkey didn’t seem like the smartest thing I had ever done. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the dumbest thing I had ever done either. I have done so many dumb things in my life that it is difficult for any new ones to make my top ten list.

There was a large crowd gathered to watch the foolish act even more foolish than usual. The donkeys were well trained, much better trained than their riders. There were donkeys that refused to budge and there were donkeys that wouldn’t stop running. There were a lot of donkeys that never quit bucking. I was excited, but I wasn’t excited as the donkeys. Let’s just say that they were not housebroken. Like that irritating little Energizer Bunny, they kept going and going and going. That was okay, as it was a way that the crowd could tell the donkeys from the players. Many of the players had been accused of being donkeys, or a similar word meaning the same thing, many times, but most of us were housebroken.

There is nothing like seeing someone you have always suspected of being a fool, act like a fool – confirming your belief. It is like electing someone to public office. You know they couldn’t be too smart or they wouldn’t be running for office. And once elected, they usually prove your suspicions correct.

I felt sorry for the donkeys -&160;for a little while. Until one that I was riding took me on a terrifying journey from first base to left field where it deposited me onto a fresh donkey dropping. Things like that don’t happen by accident. The donkey knew exactly what it was doing. It pretended to accidentally step on my hand as I lay groaning in the steaming donkey doodoo. I whined about it a little. The umpire told me, &uot;If you didn’t want to play ball, why did you get on the donkey?&uot; A good question. I had no answer, so I went back to playing.

I kept telling myself that it was a fundraiser with the money going for a good cause. We played the Hartland Nine or the Geneva Convention or the Manchester Melissas – I forget which. Maybe it was the Casper Ghosts? I don’t remember if we won or lost or if the score was even kept. I think most of the participants survived. I do remember that we raised a lot of money and that we made people laugh. I think even the donkeys did some laughing. There was never a game quite like it before and there will never be one quite like it again.

I survived the game, only being dumped by my charger a few times&160;- okay, nine times. Luckily, I managed to land on my head each time. As it has often been said, you can’t hurt a Hartlander by hitting him in the head. That may be true, but I think I may have suffered a slight brain injury because the next year, I played donkeyball again.

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.