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Nothin' special Charlie Joseph CharlieJ This has nothing to do with SI other than the fact that I'm originally from SI.

As a kid on SI I was a jock. Always playing baseball, football or something. Continued into my Navy career. Wherever I was stationed played in the base softball and flag football leagues. If the base didn't have leagues, I'd join a team in the local civilian league. Always good enough to make the team, sometimes good enough to be first string. Once on a team of what had to be klutzes, even the star of that team.
When I came to Pax River, in the early 1970's, the base had no leagues, so I joined a local civilian team. The team was good, often champions of the league, so I was just another guy on it. We had a star. His name was Larry. I was in my early to mid 30's. Larry was a few years younger. Like late 20's. Larry played shortstop. I played 2nd or 3rd base. Nobody was getting Larry's shortstop position. He fielded ground balls and threw to first in one easy fluid motion. Me, I always had a hitch in my motion to cock my arm and get something on the throw. Then the throw was an adventure too. I tended to have a wild arm. Larry didn't. Every throw was right at the first baseman's chest. Larry was truly good. He could hit too. He was, quite deservedly, our star.
Larry was also good looking, athletic. The kind of guy the girls drooled over. And they did. The kind of guy the other guys envied. And we did.
But Larry was also a nice guy. Pleasant personality. He knew he was good, but he wasn't an ass about it. Larry and I weren't great friends, but we'd occasionally meet around the county and remembering we were teammates for a few years way back when, say "Hi". Although thinking about it, I haven't seen him for many years.
Reading Friday's paper yesterday. Read the obits. Guess at our age, we read that section a lot now. Larry was there. He died. Age 56. He died. Obits often don't say how or why. It just said after a long illness.
Spent a lot of time last night remembering his grace on the ball field. His smile when we all popped a can at the bar after a game. The cheering and fellowship the year we won the championship and got our trophies and jackets.
I'm still here. Age 60. Still (apparently) healthy. Larry died. Age 56.
My mind is whirling, but I can't think of anything else to say or how to close this gracefully. So I'll just stop.


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