Rob is the Pitching Ninja, an MLB-approved account on Twitter featuring GIFs of amazing fastballs, sliders, and nuns who throw fantastic curveballs for a first pitch.
In the late 1980s, in 8th grade at Jarrett Junior High School, students were required to do a science project complete with the tri-fold white board and special formatting. My project was titled The Physics of a Curveball. With Dad’s help, I researched at the library and learned about air pressure and drag force and drew multiple diagrams of curveballs thrown at different speeds and different angles. How I wish I could have used clips and videos from Pitching Ninja.
My sophomore year in high school, I was told to pitch batting practice against the varsity team. I was told to pitch batting practice because, back then, I was pretty consistent at throwing strikes. After surrendering a couple of long home runs to a player who later went on to play football at UCLA, I threw one of the best curveballs of my life. He swung and missed it by about a foot. The coach yelled at me saying that batting practice was not the place for curveballs. After practice, however, he did compliment me. “That was a great curveball.”
Chris, a classmate and friend from Kickapoo, now teaches 8th grade science at Jarrett. He also coaches volleyball.
“I’m only in my second season and still learning. I’m trying to teach that serving overhand is just like throwing a ball, follow through with that hip for extra power. They’re quick learners.”
I have a deep affinity for Jarrett and volunteered to share motivational stories with his players anytime. I remembered the words of Coach Hesse (Day #229) and know they could be applicable to most any sport, even if my only volleyball experience comes from church retreats.
Chris also spent the summer on the road, traveling 25 days with his family through North Dakota, Idaho, and Yellowstone.
“We stopped at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. There were 13 T-Rexes! Eight-year old me was in heaven.”
For years, Chris took racing photos at the Lucas Oil Field, where Corey is one of the announcers (Day #236). His pictures landed on the covers of 3 magazines which I found remarkable.
Chris is a Cubs fan, Ryne Sandberg is his favorite player, and we laughed about the 2015 and 2016 postseason experiences — all the joy and anxiety and precious little sleep. He told me that he still watches highlights from the 2016 postseason. I know the feeling quite well. I still re-watch highlights of the 2014 AL Wild Card game as well as several games from 2015. Chris took his family to watch the Cubs play at the K just before starting volleyball practices.
At Miracle League Field, in the fullness of August humidity, we played catch and tried throwing a few curveballs of our own. They will never be featured on Pitching Ninja, but there was definite movement. Even at 44, the rules of basic physics still apply.
After catch, we joined a wiffle ball game already in progress. It felt like I was back in 8th grade again.