I woke up and immediately asked to look at the radar on Jamie’s phone before I got out of bed. A red and yellow monster was headed directly toward Springfield. Elisa (Day #36) said it was yet another August rainy day, accumulating multiple inches by nightfall.
“So the best time to play catch is…?” I asked her via Twitter.
“You may be able to squeeze it in this evening. Fields will be muddy though.”
Thankfully, Ryan (Day #100) extended an invitation to CY Sports and set up a game of catch for me. The timing couldn’t have been better as CY Sports is only five minutes away from the church where Sophie takes taekwondo.
Ryan greeted me with a handshake and a gift, a brand new CY Sports hat. Playing catch indoors will be a perfect way to break in the new hat with a good sweat. He introduced me to Zach and Gage who were taking batting practice in one of the 12 tunnels in the 27,000 square foot building just south of the Greene County boundary line.
“He’s using one of Joe Mauer’s bats,” Ryan said.
A 34-inch, 32-ounce birch Rawlings that echoed with every swing the two boys took. Zach hit a batting cage bomb, complete with epic bat flip.
Zach is a senior at Springfield Catholic High School. He’s committed to playing baseball at Ball State University in Indiana, a Division 1 school in the Mid-American Conference.
“I’m a centerfielder,” he said. Naturally, we practiced our pitching under Ryan’s tutelage.
I worked on my two-seam “fastball” and Zach taught me a new change-up that was truly gorgeous. At one point, Caleb stopped by and asked about what day I was on. We tentatively scheduled our game of catch for October 4.
Zach and I threw the ball for twenty minutes, until both my old KC Monarchs shirt and new CY Sports hat were thoroughly sweat soaked.
“Zach just needs to believe in himself like I believe in him,” Ryan said. Ryan will be coaching Zach’s fall ball team; I’m hoping I can make it out for a game.
“Baseball has taught me how to be a man and a kid at the same time. If I had a message I’d like to pass on to those younger than me, it’s this: If your dreams aren’t big enough that people laugh when they hear them, then you’re not dreaming big enough. It’s not how hard the dream will be to accomplish, it’s how hard you work toward that dream.”
Before I left, I had to take a couple swings with the Mauer bat. Zach grabbed a couple of baseballs and set up the tee.
“You look better than junior varsity to me,” Zach said with an honest smile.
A tip of the now sweaty hat to Ryan and a handshake to Zach, I left CY Sports and walked to the van under the glow of a gorgeous golden sunset.