“My older brother Dave taught me to play catch. His approach was simple, ‘Learn to catch…or die.’”
When Debbie first said this, I laughed and commented that it would make a good t-shirt motto. Then I learned that Dave was 13 years older than Debbie. That’s quite a difference in physical abilities.
“He was trying to get me ready for a game. ‘They’ll come at you quick and hard and you gotta be ready.’”
That does sound like a very big-brother approach to teaching catch-playing.
I remember helping my younger sister learn to play soccer. She was standing in as goalie and I was practicing my shooting, until I drilled a ball straight into her stomach and knocked the wind out of her. Her soccer career was effectively over. I’m afraid I’ve still got a long way to go to earn the “Big Brother of the Year” Award.
I have played catch with people who have similar mottos to Debbie’s brother. They’d throw the ball as hard as they could, playing burnout, hoping to make your hand hurt. I never really understood that catch-playing perspective, as if causing pain in someone else was enjoyable. I often retaliated by throwing the ball softer and softer in return. Passive-aggressive catch playing at its best.
“So, when I was on a team, I’d play shortstop or third base and snag all the hard-hit balls and then throw ‘em out at first. After the games, I’d ask him how I did, just seeking approval, and he’d tease me, because that’s what big brothers do. But then he’d put his arm around me and I knew he was proud.”
Debbie went on to play sports in college, both volleyball and basketball. She keeps her arm in good shape playing fetch with her beautiful lab Savannah. When she’s not enjoying life with her dogs or selling amazing homemade dog treats at the Farmer’s Market, Debbie’s a substitute teacher, which might be one of the hardest careers in the world.
Dave passed away 7 years ago, but I know he’d be proud of Debbie today. She’s still got a great arm and caught everything I threw her way, even the bad throws. More importantly, she’s a good friend to Mom, and good friends are one of God’s best gifts.
As far as t-shirts go, I’m pretty proud of this one that Phelps Grove Outfitters is selling.