Embarrassment is an interesting moment. In one instant your most beautiful day can be depressed and shrunk into a single terrible emotion. In one instant, all of your confidence and security within yourself is shredded away. In one instant, you are forced to stay in a body that you desperately wish to get out of.
That is the way it is with all types of embarrassment: sad, funny, gross or weird. In any moment of embarrassment, your only desire and thought is, “Why me?”
Well, my most memorable moment of embarrassment, and there has been many, comes when I was 8 years old and I was a bit in over my head. They say that playing sports at a young age teaches you valuable lessons for the rest of your life. I think I have a pretty good argument for that statement and it comes in the form of the most embarrassing moment of my life.
When I was in Little League, there were four different levels of age groups and they split up like so: 4-6 Tee-Ball, 7-8 Training-Minors, 9-10 Minors and 10-12 Majors. There was some overlap for 10-year-olds if you were good enough to move up. However, there were also incidences when an 8-year-old was moved up to the minors because another player was moved up mid-season.
In my second year in Training-Minors, I was on the Dodgers and was absolutely smashing the playing field (I think anyone can brag about their youth sports). I was doing so good that I was asked to move up to minors halfway through the season because a player on the minor Rockies had been moved up to the majors.
At my first game in my all-black Rockies uniform, I was quickly shoved to the side and sat on the bench for the first three innings. It was a big game against a very good team and I was not in any way antsy to see playing time, so it started out well. But in the forth inning, my debut had arrived. I was put in by default because in Little League every player is required to see at least two innings of defense.
I was nervous. There are a few types of nervous and this one was the legs-trembling, blood-shooting, heart-pounding and completely terrified type of nervous. These kids hit the ball a lot harder and farther and with me playing in left field, it was almost a guarantee that I was going to get a pop-fly hit my way. On top of that, the sun was blaring directly in my face. The situation was less than ideal.
First batter: ground out. I was feeling a little better. Second batter pop-fly to the shortstop. Okay, now we’re talking. And then, it happened. The biggest kid I have ever seen walked to plate, a right-handed monster that always pulled the ball to the left field. My nerves jumped up 12 notches. My legs started shaking again. My heart felt like a freight train and my feet were cemented to the patchy outfield grass.
This was the most nervous I had ever been and my body felt completely out-of-wack. Then, all of sudden, under that bursting sun and in front of a huge crowd something happened that I will never forget.
I pissed my pants.
There was no control over it. I stood there fixed to the ground with pee running down my legs and onto my cleats. I couldn’t look at it because at any moment the monster at the plate could hit a rocket my way. Thankfully he didn’t and I jogged in.
I now had to attempt to hide this embarrassment from the rest of my older teammates and did so by sitting in the furthest corner of the dugout to reduce the chances of someone smelling it.
As I sat there, soaked in urine, I learned the valuable lesson of prayer. Embarrassed out of my mind, I prayed, “Thank you god, for putting me on a team with black pants.”
The next test was to go up and hit with this tragedy stuck to the side of my pants. Every time there was a small gust of wind, I was reminded of my mishap because coldness would shoot up and down my left leg.
But like a true competitor, I maintained my composure on the outside and strolled up to the on-deck circle. It was my first at-bat as a Minor-leaguer and even though I was a bit preoccupied, I was still determined to make it a good one.
But the wave of embarrassment was just not quite finished. As I was taking my practicing swings in the on-deck circle, I started to realize that not only would I get cold when the wind blew, but some of the dirt the wind would kick up was starting to stick to my left leg. It was like my pants were a magnet for emotional despair. And I didn’t want to brush it off because I obviously did not want to touch my own pee. The dilemmas were piling up.
The batter before me popped out and it was my time to show my team what I was capable of.
But as I dug into the batter’s box, my embarrassment was re-awakened with the giggles from players from another team in the stands watching the game. I was sure they were laughing at my lack of control and I froze. I stood there like Henry Rowengartner in “The Rookie of the Year,” when he got his shot to hit.
Luckily, I was about 3-foot-2 at the time and the pitcher missed the strike-zone on four straight pitches.
I was on first base, and with my team going crazy in the dugout, I felt my problems were gone. But the baseball gods were now in on the joke. I got the steal sign.
The take-off was good, I had some speed going into the slide and made it under the tag. Triumph.
But as I stood up, I realized dirt was caked onto the wet leg and there was no hiding it.
This time, I wiped away the pee-encrusted dirt from my leg and stood on the base with as much pride as my tarnished spirit could muster. It seemed to work
No one ever found out, and I later became a starter in the outfield for the Rockies that year.