Skip to main content

My Brief Time in Baseball

My Brief Time in Baseball

Spring training got underway this past week with those four magical words every baseball fan loves to hear: "pitchers and catchers report."

I love baseball's tenacity against the weather. Baseball ignores Punxsutawney Phil's weather prediction with its own six week window. About two weeks after the groundhog tells us whether we'll have six more weeks of winter, 750 ball players show up to their warm weather locales to begin six weeks of knocking the rust off their arms, preparing to be the boys of summer once more.

I was never that great at baseball, but that didn't stop me from enjoying it. I played for one full and two partial seasons of Cub Scout baseball as a kid. The last two seasons I suffered season-ending injuries — a broken collarbone one year, and a broken arm the next. I was the Bob Sanders of Cub Scout baseball. Although I never played organized baseball afterward, I still played enough backyard ball to carry me well into my early teens.

But my first forays into baseball were not great, and it's only after three-and-a-half decades separate me from my first trips to the plate that I can finally talk about it.

"Not great" is actually an overstatement. "Pretty bad" is closer to the mark; "downright awful" is probably the most accurate

As a glasses wearer, my biggest fear at the plate was being smashed in the face by the ball. I knew the idea of "keeping my eye on the ball" was just a metaphor, but my main goal was to keep the ball off my eye.

Getting hit in the face was also my biggest fear in the infield, in the outfield, and sitting in the dugout. The only safe place on the field was as the catcher, because he wore a face mask. His biggest fear was getting hit in the junk by a bad foul tip.

Nothing frightens an 8-year-old boy more than getting hit in the junk, except maybe getting clocked in the face by a 200 mile-an-hour fastball flung at him by a 10-year-old pitching ace with a mustache and a tattoo on his arm of the Chinese symbol for "death from above."

When we first learned how to play, our coach was the pitcher. He taught me how to hold the bat, to stand at the plate, and to keep my knees from quaking too badly to swing at a pitch. While he had more control than the man-child they had picked to be our pitcher, I was still deathly afraid of getting hit.

"If you swing and miss, it's a strike," he told me that first day. "If you don't swing, it's a ball. Three strikes and you're out, four balls and you get to walk to first."

Once he said that, I had a plan. I knew how I was going to become a baseball star, and never have to worry about getting smashed in the face by a fast ball: if I didn't swing four times in a row, I would get a walk.

It was genius. It was brilliant. And despite over 100 years of baseball history, at eight years old, I was the first person to ever figure out that by never swinging a bat, I could be a baseball superstar. My Cub Scout team could even win the entire World Series with this plan.

This worked the first two times up at bat. Even though the coach was pitching, and he was throwing floaters that defied gravity and drifted lazily across the plate, I firmly stood my ground. I never swung the bat, and twice, I took my base, as promised.

My strategy was quickly dashed when my coach told me I had to swing the bat because in a few days, they would call strikes that passed through my "strike zone."

"What's a 'strike zone?'" I asked.

"That's the area where, if the ball passes through it, it's a strike."

Crap. My brilliant strategy were ground into dust and brushed off home plate. There goes the World Series.

I did eventually learn how to swing the bat, but I never quite got over my fear of getting a ball in the face. The following year, I was lucky enough to break my collarbone and then arm, and avoided the risk of facial injury for two more seasons.

The next fall, I took up soccer, which I played constantly for the next 13 years.

And got smashed in the face with the ball about once a year.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

---
Like this post? Leave a comment, Digg it, or Stumble it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide

TFBIHCAEEPTSD.

Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…