Amateur athletes: your finest pick-up game moment?

I don’t want to hear about any organized sports. Straight pick-up games at the YMCA, playground or church that mean pretty much nothing in the grand spectrum of sports.

Here’s mine: I was traveling in Asia and my roommate from the dorms came to Hong Kong to see his parents. I called him to meet for lunch or something and he told me to meet him at the Mei Foo station—he was going to be playing football (soccer for you ‘Merican types) with some friends.

I assumed I was going to watch a couple of games and then hang out with the guys. Cause I don’t play football, never have really, other than a couple of P.E. games in the 7th grade, and my friend knows that basketball is my real love.

I get there and am informed that I am expected to play. They stick me in goal and my ineptitude there is compounded by the inability of our team to advance the ball past midfield; we’re horrible and I’m being peppered with shots. The games go to 1-0 and we lose 3 straight, two of them on soft goals that I’ve given up.

Finally, they decide to eliminate their biggest weakness and I’m put into the field. I quickly realize that I have almost no idea of what to do. And after seeing my exploits in goal, everybody else knows the American is worthless as well. Mind you, I’m a pretty good all-around athlete and I have a decent level of skill in most American sports, so athletic incompetence of this magnitude is new to me. How exactly do you defend somebody? You got me. Dribbling? Please. Mostly I run around like a headless chicken, hoping my hustle will compensate for my complete lack of skill.

I’m out on the left wing when the magic begins to happen. They loft a long pass to me and I sprint to get to it, but it looks like the defender is going to head it away. Somehow, he manages to miss it by inches.

**Oh shit! ** Now I’ve got a ball flying toward me and no clue of what to do with it. Time slows down to a crawl. The ball’s at eye level. I come up with the brilliant plan to head the ball down onto my foot. Is this a common move? Is it safe? Do I have any chance of pulling it off? I’m baffled.

I imagine now that if I had 20 more chances to accomplish this move, I’d pull it off maybe once or twice. But now, somehow, by the grace of God, the ball is on my foot and under control. I look up and we’ve got a two-on-one, the lone defender between us. Knowing that dribbling is not a good idea, I quickly loft a pass over to my sprinting teammate. Miracles abound! The ball flies perfectly over the defender’s head and onto my teammate’s foot. It’s got to be destiny. I know we’re going to score now. With nobody to beat but the goalie, my teammate responds! It’s the only goal our team will score all day. Actually, it’s the only real scoring opportunity we get all day and the big dopey uncoordinated American is responsible.

I get to the sideline and my buddy asks incredulously, “Was that on purpose?” I’ll take the memory to my grave.

Share your moments of supreme athletic achievement that brought fleeting moments of glory to you. Especially if you’re the only person in the world who remembers the story…

Two stories from my days playing intramural slow-pitch softball in college…

First, note that all softball games were played on rectangular fields (converted soccer fields, primarily)–which meant the left field fence was, oh, 500 ft away, while right field was a paltry 200 ft or so. As I was (and still am, I guess) a dead-pull right-handed batter, what home runs I’ve hit have been over the leftfielder’s head, while I run as fast as my stubby legs will take me. No home run trots for me.

Story 1: arrive late; inserted into a close game as a pinch hitter, and miraculously drive one over the right field wall, for my only home run trot of my life.

Story 2: the farthest I’ve ever hit a ball in my life. Crushed the sucker; on the screws, as they say. The left fielder turned his back to the plate, and ran, and ran, and…made a catch exactly like Willie Mays -Vic Wertz - 1954 World Series. The best hit ball of my life turned into the best catch I’ve ever seen. I rounded first base with my jaw dropped (but that’s another thread).

Okay, I was on a co-ed city league softball team. I’m not the best player, but I’m certainly not the worst (I can hit well and I’m quick). Was playing catcher and our “I’ll handle the plate, you back me up” pitcher was doing his thing. Runner on second, batter hits a deep fly that is dropped (our team had,um, issues). Ball is thrown to the infield, retrieved by second baseman (my sister - she rocks), runner from second is now rounding third, she throws to me, and all I can think is “don’t drop the ball, do NOT drop the ball, DO NOT drop the ball…”.

I’m in front of the base, the ball is coming in low, I go on my knees to catch it, scoop it up, and (still on my knees), sweep behind me to tag the now sliding runner out at home.

I felt like I’d won the Nobel Prize!

From my days playing office-league softball…

We’re playing on a proper softball diamond. I’m in deep left field, because they’ve got a heavy hitter up and he likes to put it on the warning track–if he doesn’t hit over the fence.

He decides to hit in the park–a long, fast, low shot that is going to be shy of the warning track, but not by too much. I have a choice: run up to play it on the fly or stay where I am and play it on the hop. The former gets the batter out but might allow their man on first to advance, the latter allows both opponents a chance to advance but might be the safer choice–am I fast enough to play the ball on the fly? It’s a gamble.

I take the gamble and run up. Smack! It hurts when the ball hits my glove. Not the neatest catch I’ve ever made, but good enough to get the batter out. Meanwhile, their first-base runner is tagging up and getting ready to run for second. And naturally, our shortstop wants the ball.

I throw to the shortstop–the longest throw I’ve ever made. He gets it, turns to face the runner and–the shortstop makes the tag! Two men out, and it’s our turn to bat.

I can feel where the earlier fly ball hit my hand–it hurts somewhat and is starting to swell–but I can still bat. We have a couple of men on base when I crunch the ball to left centre. A sting of pain in my hand, but it results in a base hit for me, while the men on base come home.

I have to take myself out of the game when it is our turn to take the field. Seems my hand is so swollen that my glove will no longer fit. But soon, the game ends with a close score in our favour–as it turns out, that catch and that hit were important in contributing to our win. The team is happy, and I played one of my best games ever.

Later, X-rays showed that the long fly ball I caught broke the knuckle at the base of my index finger. That was the end of ball for me that summer, but if I had to quit, at least I did it making a couple of great plays.


That play with the catch got two men out. They already had one out; those two made it three outs for the other team, and thus our turn to bat.

It just sounded odd when I reread it, so I thought I’d try to clear up any questions.

Mine wasn’t a game-winner or even spectacular, but just a memorable play simply for the embarassment it caused someone else. LOL.

I was playing pickup basketball at Virginia Tech on a spring afternoon, so the courts were crowded. Two full-length games going on, and about two teams waiting per court. Crowded, lots of people watching, and classes were letting out, so lots of people walking by.

One game through the lopsidedness of people calling “I got him,” I end up matched up with a short quick point guard to defend. I am 6-3, big and slow. Everyone else on our team is matched up perfectly with someone to defend, so rather than switch everyone around, they decide to tell me to suck it up and do the best I can. No problem. I play off him deep when he’s out on the perimeter, and when he picks up the ball I try to close in on him as he goes to shoot. And if he tries to drive, I do my best and then hope someone’s got my back on help.

Late in the game a group of about ten people comes walking by the court and they stop to watch. There’s a timeout during an argument over a foul call, and the guy I’m guarded spends it talking to this group, yelling back and forth with them from the court. It’s his hallmates as well as his girlfriend.

So he decides he’s going to show off for them at my expense. His team’s got the ball, so he comes up the court dribbling through his legs, jumping as he dribbles, being all sorts of fancy as I just back off and let him. Talking trash, too, for the benefit of his friends. “You can’t take me! I’m too fast for you big man!”

He’s at the top of the key and decides he’s going to drive at me and take it to the hoop. His friends are standing behind the fence in back of the basket, head-on view as he charges at me, my feet moving, but not quickly enough. I shift a bit to the side so I’m standing almost parallel to the sideline, almost like a door swinging open to let him pass … then as he goes up for the layup I swing my arm from low down behind me, up and over him …

And absolutely SWAT SWAT SWAT the ball – the way I swing my arm it’s like a baseball swing almost, and the ball travels in the air from the basket PAST half-court before hitting the ground, where one of my teammates chases it down for a layup at the other end.

While his friends roll on the ground laughing, his girlfriend with a nervous grin on her face, trying hard to hold it in as the guy just stands there with his hands on his hips, cursing me for picking THAT MOMENT to do that. Man, that was sweet. Every time I saw him on the court after that, he insisted on being on my team.

Keeping in mind that I am about as far from being an athlete as a person can be (those of you who come to Spiffle II- when you see me you’ll know what I’m talking about)…

A bunch of us are playing football one warm September evening in when I was in college. This was tackle football, no gear of any kind. Yes, we were stupid.

Well, about three plays into the game my team is on defense when the offense runs a running play that doesn’t work out. The runner fumbles the ball and it squibs away from the crown around the runner, off to the side. Away from all the players. Out into open space. Right toward me (because I’m too slow to get into the tackle). I see my chance and do a header right toward the ball, smothering it under me as my forward momentum carries me a good 3 extra yards. I pick up the turnover and I’m the hero for the moment.

Well, the guy who orignally dropped the ball is this big dumb ogre who is also the son of the Men’s Dean. The boy has a mouth on him and attitude to spare, and for the rest of the game he keeps glaring at me.

Well, deep into the fourth quarter there’s another fumble, only this time the ogre isn’t carrying the ball. But it just so happens that he and I are both in a perfect position to jump on it. So we both hurl ourselves at the ball, and at each other. Our heads conk in mid air.

I wound up with a bloody nose and a black eye.

Big dumb ogre winds up in the ER. :smiley:

My own amateur basketball awards. Ahem…

First prize: Playing for my residence hall at the University of Leeds, we lose badly to a suspiciously good team, but I somehow manage to score 16 points, as far as I can remember the most I’ve ever scored in a game. My sense of achievement was greatly multiplied when the suspiciously good team was revealed as the second string of the “varsity” side.

Booby prize: Playing for my residence hall at Penn State during an intermural game, we were pitted against a fraternity who apparently only rushed giants (Phee Phi Pho Phum?) At 6’2" and the tallest member of our side by about four inches, I guarded one of their 6’7" guys. After losing the opening jump ball, I stole a pass and went coast to coast for a layup, sparking wild celebrations on our “sideline”. At the half, it was 34-2. My layup was the 2.

I’m the third wideout. We’re down by five with about a minute left. We hadn’t lost a game all year. Hell, no one came within 20 points all year. This game is against the champs for the last three years. They went to Nationals for chist sake!

We’re at a third and long. About 50 yards to the goal line. The play is called in the huddle - double reverse pass. This means that Wide Receiver One runs an end around, takes the hand off, hands off to Wide Receiver Two also on an end around from the other direction. Wide Receiver One and Quarterback run patterns long as soon as they hand off. I go long as soon as the ball is snapped. By the time Wide Receiver Two has the ball, I’m about 15 yards from the goal line. He’s about to get sacked and heaves it up as far as he can. WAAYYY over my head. I just give it all I can, get under it, and catch it with my fingertips on the back third off the ball. Second foot stays in bounds at the back of the endzone by about a micrometer.

Right after the game, I can’t remember actually making the catch. It’s like I watched it from a side view.

We won and went on to win three consecutive titles.

Finally…a thread where i can share my glory! :slight_smile:

Ok, so over the summer me and my friends were playing ultimate freesbie about 3 times a week. But there was one game which feel forever cement my abilities as a clutch player.
It’s was a pretty evenly matched game, both teams had a good balance of star power(yours truly would be seen as such) and role players. The score was 5-5, and we usualy play till 7…and you have to win by two. So, one we went, my team scored, but the opposition retaliated, both of the teams knew that we were in for a long ass game.Both sides exchanged scores, till the tally was 11-11. All of us were exhausted, and it was agreed upon that the next charge would be the last, and it so happened that the other team got the freesbie. I got to throw off(me having the best freesbie arm ;)and as soon as i threw off, i rushed downfield, trying to create some chaos and get possesion of the freesbie. The opposition gets the freesbie, and start their passin rout, but oh oh…what’s this a sudden gust of wind get the freesbie, and it’s left floating helplessly amoing a throng of people. One of the attackers jumps for the freesbie, and i decide to do somethin dirty…very dirty. I accidently run into a rather frail attacker who is right next to the one in mid air, an he gets pushed into the guys jumping, and knocks him flat and bam the freesbie is in my hands. I quickly make a lateral pass to a teamate. I gather ever ounce of energy for a final sprint for the endzone. I run a cross pattern and cut back across the middle, but the defender is still all over me. My teamate, for reasons still unknown, just flings the disk toward the endzone. I was the closest one to the disk, so i just book it, head down, only concetratin on where i think it’s gona end up. As i cross the endzone line, i see it, still about 10 feet infront of me. I gasp for air, and attempt one last speed burst and dive head 1st for the freesbie. But what’s this, in a Kodak moment shot, a defender is diving from the side to knock it aside, and i can still see it all unfold in slow motion…we both get to the disk at the same time, but i manage to get under it, pop it up, it harmlessly floats over the defender, and while i’m still in the midst of diving, i catch it…on my head and promptly proceed in landing on my face, gettin dirt and grass in my mouth, not to mention a split lip. But we won the longest Freesbie game, i’ve ever played…

Back in the Air Force, my unit played a pickup basketball game one evening. I hated the master sergeant in charge of our electronics shop, and–hehehe–he was on the other team. I was in excellent shape then. He wasn’t. We all agreed that rank would play no role in the game and there would be no repercussions afterwards.

My shooting was a little off in the first half, and the chief started taunting me about it. Then, in one of those moments that is crystalline in its perfection, he went to take a shot with me covering him. The timing of my leap was perfect and my adrenaline gave me a freakish jump. He was a few inches shorter than me, and he meant to take a jumpshot but failed to jump. He shot flatfooted. At the zenith of my leap, my navel was at his forehead level. The other players and the people watching all let out a collective, OHHHHHHHH.

I not only blocked his shot, but caught it onehanded and slammed it down on the top of his head. Laid the sumbitch OUT. I helped carry him off the court. Hehehehe…

Unfortunately, their team found a replacement–a Lieutenant who previously played forward for the LSU Tigers. Ouch.

I guess blocking shots in basketball is a universally gratifying experience – something about humiliating your opponent? You’ve lured me into another story (don’t get me started on basketball stories – I can remember plays from 10 years ago with startling, perhaps pathetic, clarity).

Playing pick-up at the Cal-Berkeley gym. Somebody who I’m not guarding tries to take what you might call a “running floater” in the lane. I come off my man to help out. His eyes are fixed on the basket and he doesn’t see me coming from an angle. I time my leap perfectly, reaching my apex just as he’s coming down and has to release the ball.

There’s a frozen moment where I’m high above him, arm cocked, just about ready to, as they say in my hometown, throw his shit into the backcourt, when he finally sees me swooping down upon him.

He lets out a whimpering, pathetic “no!” right before being swatted. The only time my athletic talent has reduced an opponent to fearful hopelessness! It was sublime.

the scene: University of Michigan CCRB(central campus Recreation building). There were three courts always going at any reasonable time of the day. One court was for casual players, one was for fairly serious guys, and one was for the real shit. This was a court where many of the fab five had popped in for a game or two. I saw Barry Sanders and Joe Dumars play an up. There were also several ex college and allmost college players there on a regular basis. I didn’t played there often because I played like shit compared to them. I was about half on the slow court and on the middle court when I was having a good day. I was 2nd to next on the middle court, watching good court, and noticed one of my friends standing at the good court. We talked for a few, then his game was up. He couldn’t find his fifth, so he told me to join in. The other team had held the court for about 10 games, and were damn good, but no one I recognized. My team was good, but we were seriously outmatched, and I was the obvious weak link So they didn’t cover me very hard. My defender cheated off So I was open for a three and got the ball, swish. Next time down my friend missed I grabbed the long rebound and went up. I noticed a defender whose hand was about three feet above my head, realized that The jump shot wasn’t going to have a chance, and ended up doing some kind of shot-put jump-hook thing that went about 25 feet high in the air before it came down, swish. Next time down I’m cutting under the basket, a teammate loses the ball it bounces to me, I start to go up, and lose all perspective as I’m crushed between two 6’5 defenders. Next thing I know they’re giving me a helping hand to stand up, and congratulate me on making the amazing shot. By the time the game was done I had 4 more rebound putbacks that I have no clue how they went in. By the end(we lost, but only by one which was the best anybody had done against them that day) they were calling me the garbageman(mostly as a complement) and putting their best defender to box me out. I think the nickname was the coolest part, since it was given in the heat off battle.

I have a good moment in one football game. This was with some of my friends, with only a few rules. We were down by one touchdowns towards the end of the game, so we decided to do whatever we could to try to win. This is tackle football, no pads. So we are at the 4 yard line, and the qb had a plan. He told us, and we started the play. The qb went back and handed it off to the littlest guy we have, who runs toward me. I turn towards him and cup my hands, he jumps into them, and I LAUNCH him into the end zone. It was awesome. (no bones broken, by the way)

When I was in high school I used to play a lot of pickup football with the guys in my neighborhood. As a rule we were all pretty well matched, and there were some good four on four and five on five games. Well, on one particular day I ran the whole game. Everyone played both offense and defense, and I was in the backfield both ways. On offense I was the running back, and on defense I was basically a free safety, covering deep. On this one day I scored all the points, rushing for two touchdowns and intercepting a pass for another. The other team didn’t manage a single point. In fact, I so badly frustrated the guy I was covering that, after I swatted yet another seemingly sure catch out of his hands, he threw me on the ground and punched me in the eye. I had the coolest shiner at school the next day.

I was at the school basketball courts with two of my friends, when a five on five game started up with me involved. Keep in mind, while good at other sports…my basketball skills stink. And my friends know this. But I tried hard. After a few minutes, it became obvious that I was not only the shortest person playing by five inches, but that I was also the slowest and the one with the least amount of skill at the game. However, this didn’t stop one of my teammates from passing to me at the top of the key when I was wide open.

I square up, take the shot…still wide open.

The ball glides gently from my hand, forming a perfect rainbow towards the basket.

Except it’s about five inches wide, and hits the backboard and misses the rim completely.

I was mortified. And of course, my friends start giving me crap. The other team rebounds and runs it back for an easy lay in. :frowning:

However, my redemption came shortly after. The next time the ball reaches our side of the court, one of the better players on our team puts up a shot but misses and it bounces off the rim. This is where everything becomes a blur. I remember it like it was in fast forward.

The ball bounces off the rim…I jump into the air, reach above the three opposing players around me to snatch the rebound and land safely. I then dribbled once, and leapt through the defenders to roll the ball in for my only basket of the game.

This immediately resulted in high fives and amazed comments from my friends and teammates. Ahhhh…even know I bask in the glory of my athleticism.

Ah…here is a thread where I can actually share something of a triumphant and not pretend be a worthy poster. I’ve got a couple of good pick-up game memories, so I will stick to those and not those of organized sports.

In my community, there is the annual 4th of July softball game at 8 in the morning. This matchup pits the old men(aged 25 and up) with beer bellies flopping, against the whipper-snappers(14-24) in a game for the ages. The old men had won 10 consecutive years since the first game, and looked to continue their dominance. However, this year it was different, the young ones had kept the old men off the board completely and went into the final half-inning, tied with them but looking for our first hit of the game as well. The first two hitters retire themselves in order as has been going on all day, and then I step up to the plate. Every child’s dream, the kind you act out in the backyard while throwing the ball up to yourself again and again. The ball floated in perfectly, and I drilled it to deep left field, the left fielder goes back, back, back, back…and the ball is gone!!! Into the weeds, game-winning home-run, breaks up the no-hitter, the shutout, and the streak. It was pretty amazing.

9th grade gym, volleyball week. I absolutely sucked at the game, as I do at most sports. I was always the last picked for teams, because I could care less if we won or lost, and everyone knew it. We were doing the rotating serve thing, and my turn came up. Everyone groaned. One of the girls in the front row on the other team muttered loudly, “this outta be good!”, and I heard. So I put all my energy into that serve, sent it flying right over the net, and we scored. I was baffled. Everyone expected me to blow it, so no one thought to defend the ball. I scored the next 14 points of the game. :smiley:

The next game, however, I went back to sucking.

These things are great. :slight_smile: Anywho…

Can’t remember exactly when, but it was many years ago in Boy Scouts, at the annual summer camp in Michigan. Anyways, there is always the reservation softball championship, between the two separate camps. Well, the other camp actually played a whole tournament to determine their winner. Our camp had a collection of 15 scrubs, from 3 separate troops if I recall. Anyway, the coach of our team was from one of the other troops, so he put the 10 kids from his troop in the game, and the other 5 of us (from the other two troops, were the bench warmers). Well the other camp was thoroughly kicking our ass, somewhere around 15-0. when the coach decided to put us in. From our troop it was my brother and I.

Well, we staged one of the most awesome comebacks ever. :stuck_out_tongue: The stuck me at 3rd base, and my bro at 2nd. The decrease in errors on our team was immediately noticeable (but still not non-existent). The shot that gave us the lead was myself hitting a homerun (a line drive that gets past the outfielders, not a REAL HR) with the bases jacked. We won that game 22-17, for the reservation championship.

When I was like, 10 (I don’t really remember), my mom signed me up to play on a Softball team. I figured, “Hey, it’s called Softball! I wonder if we use Nerf balls or something…” You see, I didn’t know anything about Baseball except the general rules which I picked up from a crappy NES Baseball game I played when I was younger…Then they gave me a helmet to put on when I was going up to bat for the first time. “…but if it’s SOFTball, why do I need a helment?” “Just put it on, you’re up!!”

Anyway, my best “play” was pure fluke…As usual, I was standing way out in left field (uhhh, left if you’re standing out there facing home plate), looking at bugs in the grass crawl around, and wishing it wasn’t so hot out (a true athlete, I know)…when suddenly someone shouted at me and I glanced up to see a ball sailing way up in the air. Fully aware of my Baseball skills, I muttered, “awww maaaan…” and stuck my glove up in the air. The sun was in the eyes and all I could see was a vague little black dot against the blue sky. I glanced down at the ground to make sure there weren’t any rocks or anything to trip over when I had to scurry for the ball, and then miraculously I felt a weight in my glove, heard “the sound”, and realized I caught it.

This was a miracle in itself, and I was all set to go home and celebrate with a can of Pepsi and some TV…but my mission wasn’t over. Someone shouted, “Double play!! Double play!!” Puzzled, I muttered, “Double play? What? I have to catch this stupid thing again?” until someone finally motioned and shouted “The ball! Throw the ball!! To first!!”

Now I’m no fool…I know that if you drop the ball, it gets people angry. And besides, I just pulled off the mightiest catch in my entire LIFE…something I’d probably never do again. No way in hell I was going to get RID of the ball! As far as I was concerned it was made of gold.

Then I notice EVERYONE shouting at me to throw the ball. Eventually, I figure they probably know the game better than I do and I can blame them if getting rid of the ball screws things up…so I lop it over to first and watch everyone jump with glee as the runner who was hightailing it back was tagged. Magically I just pulled off a double play. I still didn’t know what that meant, but everyone was happy, so I was happy.

I spent the rest of the time begging to any god that happened to be listening that I wouldn’t get beaned in the head with the “soft” ball…I liked going up to bat because when you were at bat you at least got a helmet. By the end of the “season”, I was a full fledged master of dodging softballs…I couldn’t catch worth a damn, and I wanted to live, so I spent a lot of time jumping out of the way and apologizing to my team, heh…

The next year, after I’d almost completely blocked out the horrible memories, my mom came to me with the “great” news that she signed me up to play again since I had so much fun last year. I have no idea what kid SHE was watching…

The moral of this story is that you should never sign your kid up to play a sport you’ve never heard him even MENTION before. And Softball is evil…I still drop to the ground and cover my head whenever someone tosses a baseball to me.

  • Tsugumo (“What do you MEAN you don’t know how to play baseball?! EVERYONE knows how to play BASEBALL! Now here’s your bat, you’re up next!”)