It was something I hadn’t attempted since I was at a junior high school birthday party and to be quite honest, I wasn’t very good at it then. Either.
Which of course means that I was out of my element in the great homecoming pinata pounding contest of 2021 that was set up by the WHS booster club.
I had little time to stress over the event because very frankly, I was going to get a call back if the event was a “go” and I hadn’t heard anything, so I just pretty much forgot about it. Until.
I had a Facebook IM asking if I was still planning on being at the high school football field at 5:30 p.m. the next night to be a part of the pinata contest. OK, not gonna lie. I started to get nervous. Obviously when the rules are: 1. I have to wear a blindfold and 2. I have to carry a bat, it MAY not be in my wheelhouse.
The only thing that could have possibly prepared me for this humiliation was my college baseball coach who was as sadistic as the day was long and made us stand in the batter’s box while 90 mph fastballs were hurled across the plate. Oh, and, yeah, we were blindfolded.
I felt like he was trying to live out a Mr. Miyagi fantasy with his players. So, to make a long story very short without giving his entire philosophy as to the value of the exercise, we were to hit the ball from what we heard and not what we saw – which pretty much threw out the concepts that I had learned all my life about keeping my eye on the ball.
We’d occasionally have one of those bad boys hit us, but the positive we were supposed to take away from it was, we didn’t fear it ahead of time, and it made us stand in the box without flinching. Well, perhaps I never flinched, but the first time that whizzing cowhide smacked that glove I jumped about a foot and wet myself a little bit.
Now, back to the pinanta pounding. I was going up against a feared and revered opponent in Wheatland Councilman Tony Montoya. I heard he was pretty good with a bat and knew his way around a pinata. The varsity football coach Cody Bohlander split the teams. “Who thinks Tony is going to win?
Thunderous applause. “You go near Tony’s pinata.”
“Who thinks Mark is going to win?”
Sound of crickets on the 20-yard line.
Suddenly I was back there in junior high being picked for kickball.
Well… a few of them did choose Team DeLap and little did they know that my ancestors didn’t break paper mâché animals, but tossed Cabers for centuries. I mean… I wasn’t prepared. Go ahead – cross check my story with Ancestory.com.
So… LET THE GAMES BEGIN. The pinatas dropped and almost immediately I heard the sound of wild cheering going on from the other camp and knew that Montoya killed it.
You gotta be kidding me.
I swung wildly. You know… like I did when I was a college baseball player. Back and forth until I reared back and knocked that eagle right off the rope. I separated his head from his leash!
It flew 30 feet into a crowd of waiting and hungry Bulldogs who proceeded to rip the head off and spill the candy to the turf. I had done it. I hit a walk-off eagle home run in the bottom of the ninth and though I lost the contest, his eagle was still on the rope. Mortally wounded and emptied of its candy, but… still on the rope. I’m just sayin.’
My mâché on the other hand was going, going, GONE. A home run into the cheap seats.
Now. If I could have done that just one time in college, perhaps my sports path would have taken a turn to baseball instead of basketball.
But again, I only have two words. CABER. TOSS.