God made baseball to teach us humility.
Before the Mountain Ducks game against the Moon City Mavericks, I threw batting practice to Tyler Jones. I would have told you that I was doing a decent job of throwing strikes. I would have told you I was protected by the L screen. Tyler squared a ball which was promptly stopped by my head, just above my right ear. I honestly expected to pass out. Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt. Maybe that was the pre-game ibuprofen helping. A small lump formed along with some unique bruising, I think caused by where the ball hit the seams of the hat.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, I helped warm up Harry B, our closer for the day. With the Nixa Suckers standing behind him waiting for our game to end, he flipped his glove forward, the sign for a curveball. I know how to catch a curveball. I caught one from former MLB pros Jim “The Rookie” Morris and Kyle McClellan during Catch 365. Somehow, I completely missed catching Harry’s curveball. It didn’t touch my glove at all. Instead, I stopped it with the instep of my left foot. It dropped me to a knee. More unique bruising. After the game, Coach Austin Kendrick said I walked with swag. Something like that.
At the plate, I faced Todd Tolbert in my first at bat. I felt like I was seeing the ball out of his hand really well. I thought the first pitch was significantly outside, but the umpire disagreed. I remembered what Bill Virdon told me, “Respect the umpire, always. Even if you disagree.” I didn’t chirp or even look back. I took a deep breath and dug back in to the batter’s box. The next two pitches were balls, followed by another significantly outside strike. I struck out on a foul tip on a third outside pitch. Swallowing my pride, I walked back to the dugout.
My second at bat came with runners on first and second and no one out. I had visions of glory, hitting a gap shot double and getting a couple RBIs. Daniel England, the manager for the Mavericks, made a pitching change as I stepped up to the plate. King Owens replaced Todd Tolbert. Again, I felt like I was really seeing the ball well. First pitch fastball on the inner half of the plate, and I grounded into a 5 – 3 double play.
In two at bats, I was responsible for three outs.
Walking out to the bullpen, Harry B told me, “The lessons of baseball are the lessons of life.”
Baseball teaches humility.
But it also reminds us, over and over and over again, that we are not alone. It is impossible for one person to be solely responsible for any win or loss.
Baseball, like life, combines individual effort within the team. Baseball brings people together to work and play toward a common goal.
When Life knocks you upside the head or brings you to your knees, say something, and give your teammates the opportunity to be there for you.
After all, we are all part of the best team — the human one.
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Sophie took my broken bat, the one I broke at a practice a few weeks ago, and made into something beautiful.
Starry Night – The Baseball Bat Edition.
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