A good friend suggested I check out White Brothers Baseball in Fordland since flash-flood inducing rain forced me to find an indoor game of catch. I sent an email and waited with fingers crossed.
“If you want to play catch, come to Fordland, we’ll work you in,” Jerrod said.
I know Fordland because of the TV towers. Seeing those towers let me know we were finally getting close to home after visiting family in southeast Missouri.
For 25 minutes, I was greatly annoyed by the deafening sound of rain hitting my windshield. I spotted the four-flooded baseball fields before I saw the White Brothers Baseball training facility. I tried to wait for a break in the rain to make a dash for the door, but had no luck.
As soon as I opened the door, I was immediately greeted by a golden retriever and by Jerrod. Jerrod played baseball collegiately at University of Arkansas, Missouri State University, and Bellevue University. He was offered contracts to play professionally in the American Association, Continental League, and Frontier League.
“Glad you made it; 365 days of catch, huh?”
“I like it.”
Based in the Dick Birmingham Memorial Sports Complex, White Brothers Baseball started using the 10,000-square foot facility in 2014 and now coaches 15 little league teams. The facility has everything a growing ballplayer needs, including plenty of seating space and a TV room for waiting parents.
The rain intensified and echoed on the metal roof — almost a heavy jazz percussion to the intermittent leather pops of a baseball and the click-track of a bat.
“Ready?” Jerrod motioned me under the net. And then I noticed he didn’t have a glove.
“Hey you guys, make room for Ethan.”
Hunter and Aaron are part of a travel team for 12-year olds — “Except I’m 11,” Hunter said. They are here for a 90-minute workout and practice. Hunter called out the catch-playing warm-up instructions and threw the ball to Aaron, who threw it to me. I then threw it back to Aaron and on went the triangled game. We started out on our knees for grounders and backhands. I can’t remember the last time I was kneeling on the ground. ACL surgery changes things.
Every 8 – 10 throws, we switched catch-playing drills.
Twisty throws and hop throws and quick throws and shuffle throws and relay throws and throws that I felt in every muscle in my body. Time was called and we planked while the catchers put on their gear.
Jerrod is getting ready to start his first season as the head coach of the baseball team at Central High School. He’s taught in the Springfield Public School district for 7 years and really wants Central to field a competitive team.
“What Central needs, what Springfield needs, is an RBI program.”
Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities is sponsored by Major League Baseball and designed to promote and grow the game to all boys and girls.
“An RBI program isn’t about money. It’s about the love of the game and giving kids an opportunity to be part of a team.”
Once the catchers were ready, Hunter and Aaron got called to infield drills — turning double plays using flat gloves.
“Wanna give it a try?” Jerrod asked.
I snapped a quick picture of the team at work and smiled at Hunter’s last words he said to me.
“I’d give you a ‘B.’ You’ve got talent.”
To support Catch 365, donate to Miracle League here.