The Gut: Hector Mercado Part 1

Now I know some of you read the title of this article and thought one of two things. One is I was to lazy to think of a title for this weeks edition of the gut or the real sports geeks thought I was going to write about some relief pitcher on the Reds. Well actually I want to tell you a little about myself and my accomplishments in the world of sports.

Growing up I was what was known as a park rat. I got there at about 9 am and left when it got dark to eat dinner. After dinner I would come back to the courts and play basketball because there were lights there. This was everyday of every summer from the time I was 12 till I was 15.

Why? Why did I waste so much time at the park playing sports? I mean I didn’t get anywhere in it so it must have been a waste of time right? Wrong. I could go into the obvious that sports teach teamwork in a way that can’t be taught in other ways. But that’s not the direction I’m going to go with this article. Instead I am gonna tell you some of my best sports memories so maybe you can see where my love comes from.

The Catch- Everyone who considers themselves an athlete does something at least once in their life that they know they will never do again. This is my story, I was playing at my boy Ray’s house. There was this gravel cul-de-sac in front of his house that we played at everyday after school. Ray and I were always on opposite teams because we were both big and both could play quarterback. My team ran a play where I pitched the ball to someone else and I ran out for a pass. As the pass was thrown I knew it was under thrown a little bit, I thought I might have to knock it down so it wasn’t caught by Ray who was covering me. We both jumped up for the ball and Ray tipped it up. I really can’t explain what happened next but when we both came down I had both hands behind my back and the ball was in them. I then ran into the end zone just like that. How did I catch a pass with my hands behind my back? Well I have no idea but I do know it was one of the cooler things I have done.

Rudy- Everyone knows the story. The kid who didn’t get any playing time comes in to a cheering crowd. They are chanting his name as he breaks through the line and makes a tackle. Well imagine my surprise in 10th grade as the parents in the Garden City section started chanting my name to let the coach know that he should put me in. We were up by a lot so he tells me to get in. The first defensive play has me slanting in to the right. The running back runs to the left of where I am. I reached back with my left hand and got a hold of his jersey and pulled him to the ground for my first tackle in an actual game. The parents went absolutely nuts. I got up off the ground and there were chills running up and down my spine.

Soccer players aren’t THAT fast- My first day at Garden City HS was one of the most nerve racking experiences of my life. First of all I came from a little shit hole town in Pennsylvania where the men were ugly and the women looked like men. So I walk into this school and there are pretty girls wearing make-up and skirts. I don’t think I breathed or blinked that day. So we go to gym class and once again I was picked last in a football game. This kid Kash Patel was covering me, he was much smaller than me but he was a starter for the soccer team so he could make up for his lack of size with his speed. At some point in the middle of the game I was frustrated because I wasn’t getting the ball because no one knew me. I ran out, cut a crossed the middle and the kid actually threw me the ball. I reached out with one hand and grabbed it and took off. His teammates didn’t let him forget that he got burned by the fat kid; I think he might still be in therapy because of me.

These are just 3 of my many stories I could share. I could go into how I beat John and some of our friends 5 on 1 in basketball. Or I could talk about how Brian Nick and his friends banned me from playing football with them because they couldn’t stop me or tackle me so I ruined their games. Why did I even bother to write this article some of you maybe asking? Others are calling me a braggart right now and you maybe right. But I’m actually writing this for the women out there. The women who don’t understand their mans obsession with sports or a particular athlete. Ladies the reason we love this stuff is because it brings us back to a day where the stresses of bills, politics and health issues were non-existent. It’s one of the few spots in life where you can say “I am better than you and I’m gonna prove it.” Sports are the reason guys want little boys and they are part of the reason that little boys like spending time with their father. I never had that but I did have my own motivation, to prove all of you wrong. This has been a personal look at me, the fat jock.

P.S. Well I know P.S. is only for letters but I’m taking creative license here. This article is the first part, part 2 will focus more on how backyard heros translate into A-Rod making 252 million dollars. I didn’t think anyone would read a 5 page article like I had planned so I’m splitting it up. see you all again soon.

4 replies on “The Gut: Hector Mercado Part 1”

  1. awesome article!! i really enjoyed reading it… very creative and interesting, keep up the good work.

    one thopught: i was a sports geek when i was little. i was daddy’s little tomboy and kicked the shit out of the boys and was a damn good defense-woman in football. but you are forgetting that sports are for boys and girls, not for men and women. just like how i wanted to be a scientist and now I’m an english major. society and culture does something to girls when they “come of age” that it doesnt to little boys. things change and its not ok to be a tomboy. sure there are the few and far between who dont give a shit, and i’d like to say I am one of them, but the change is so subtle that it goes unnoticed until one day you are 16 and realize that you missed the superbowl and haven’t climbed a tree in three years. its a sad truth. but i totally understand your point about the nessesity of sports and what it does for men. it would do the same for women…. we’re just cultured differently.

  2. It was 4 on 1 not 5… it was Me, Luke, Steve and T. Chris wasn’t there… in fact i’m not entirely sure chris has ever been to a park, period. And considering who you played it’s still nothing to brag about… we’re so bad we couldn’t beat the fake team the Harlem Globetrotters pay to lose against them.

    Anyway, Hec let me make my point.. i think this is your best article yet, you’re definitly tapping into a style that works and i love it. Your writing seems to get better every time i read something of yourse. I can’t wait for part 2, great job.

  3. Hey Hector,

    I appreciate the nod in your piece but I have to say that I don’t remember explicitly banning you from our football games. Needless to say it wasn’t fun trying to tackle you and your presence usually made the games lopsided, but I hope there aren’t any lingering hard feelings.

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