Game Winning Ball

BASEBALLWhile most people think of baseball in spring I think of baseball in October. Ok I’m not a big sports fan, and maybe it has to do with the media hype surrounding the playoffs and the World Series. But I will watch a baseball game in October over anything else. If I’m a fan of any team it’s the New York Yankees. Yeah yeah I know the Yankees are the epitome of fat cat corporations, and how big media markets have the money to dominate in way small markets can’t even dream of. I think what team you root for has a large part to do with who was the favored team in my house. Many of my friends rooted for the Mets, but for me it was the Yankees all the way. I can remember seeing my first professional baseball game like it was yesterday.

Like most boys growing up I played in little league. Now if you’ve read my leopard print bikini story you know I was a bit of a runt, and if you’ve read the most important day of my life story you’ll realize I was also a bit of geek and nerd. So it should come as no surprise that my athletic skills left much to be desired. When it came to picking sides and there were the few spastic kids left I was usually one of them. When you had the kids who the coach would split up and let them play half games that was me, so plain and simple I sucked.

Such was my first season in the farm leagues. I was a spaz and went the entire season without a hit. In fact it was so bad one of the few times I managed to make it onto base by getting a walk, I didn’t know how to tag-up and when the coach said ‘get ready to run’ I didn’t actually know when to run and left to early and was subsequently thrown out.

Despite the handicap the team I was on was able to make it to league championship. We were tied in the last inning two men were on base, and it was my turn to come to bat. Now for those of you who’ve never been at the bottom of the food chain in school let me just tell you it’s brutal, kids can be mean … real mean. There was taunting, teasing and snide comments. I did my best to ignore them, and maybe I was able to keep up a brave facade, but I can tell you I heard every word, and it hurt.

I stepped into the batter box … first pitch … a ball … but I swung … STRIKE ONE! The bench moans. The second pitch …. I swung …. and missed … STRIKE TWO. The coach called time. He came over to talk to me. This pitcher is fast … if it looks good coming out swing … but swing early and SWING AT IT. My hands were sweaty … my stomach felt like Mothra was flying around inside and I felt like I was going to puke, but I stepped into the batters box. The pitcher nodded and came into his windup … the ball came out … it was moving from the top down towards the plate and fast. I heard the coach in my head like Ben Kenobi (hey this was the 70’s and was geek) … if it looks good swing early and swing at it. So I closed my eyes … and swung. I swung with all of the strength a kid could muster, it was whole body swing, if I hit the ball it was going to go yard!

I waited what seemed an eternity and then I heard it … THE CRACK OF THE BAT, I felt the sting of contact in my hands, and I opened my eyes. The ball took off like a rocket and went screaming into the air, it sailed into the outfield dropping to the ground (Ok truth be told it was blooper over the head of the second baseman not close enough for the outfielder to run in and catch it, like I said I was a runt). Suddenly the whole bench was screaming at me, the crowd was screaming at me, what were they saying …. RUN … I forgot to run to first base. I ran with all the speed my little legs possessed, despite the fact the one of the other players on base managed to score I just barely made it safely to first base, and I had tied up the game. The details of exactly what happened next are blur, but I managed to score and we won the game.

In the excited dugout after the game the coach told me ‘well if you were going to wait all year to make a hit that was the hit to make, congratulations’. With that he tossed me the ball. It was dirty and all scuffed up, but it was mine, I earned the game winning ball!

to be continued … (my first baseball game)

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