Each day this week, the author is recounting notable home runs he’s conceded during his life as a nearly decent baseball pitcher at various levels.
Date: March, 1998
Level: High School (Preseason)
Place: Lake Bonny Park in Lakeland, FL (Link)
I am both (a) almost certainly plagiarizing the work of another, more talented author, but also at least (b) appealing to capital-T Truth, when I note at the outset of this brief post that, during the career of a young ballplayer, there are moments when he is compelled, against his will probably, to acknowledge that he’s unlikely ever to become an older ballplayer — or, at least not the sort of older ballplayer who’s compensated for his virtues afield. “This is not for you,” the facts of reality conspire to announce gravely. “Time to re-evaluate your options, probably.”
Nor are such woeful epiphanies confined merely to the sporting diamond. Indeed, in an appropriately somber frame of mind, one might easily take up the view that life is little more than a procession of formerly open doors closing on would-have-been opportunities and alternate, perhaps even preferable, endings.
When I was quite young, for example, I wanted little else but to become (now retired) NASCAR champion Richard Petty, against whose charms I suppose many four-year-old boys were helpless in those early, sexy 1980s. Having learned almost nothing about stock-car racing over the last 30 years, however — and also as the owner of precisely zero cowboy hats festooned with decorative rooster feathers — my prospects for emulating the great Petty are rather limited at this point. C’est la vie, it appears.
This is not to say that, before conceding a home run as a mediocre 18-year-old pitcher in 1998, that I’d harbored much in the way of false hope regarding my baseball future. What I am saying, however, is that it helped to settle the matter conclusively.
The precise circumstances of the incident in question I recall only vaguely today, what with the gauzy mists of time having settled upon them and everything. I know that I’d traveled with my high school team to Orlando, where we spent a week together as a group at the Doyle Baseball facility in nearby Lakeland. I know that, during the day, we’d participate in drills of various sorts. I know finally that most nights, generally speaking, we’d scrimmage against either an area team or another squad which, like ours, had utilized the March break to escape the frozen North.
It was during one of these evening games that I played my part in providing the raw material for the third in this five-part tribute to failure. As for the specific identity of the team we were playing, this is unclear to me — as is the identity of the batter or inning or count or, honestly, even the actual park at which we were playing. Whoever hit that home run, though, he hit it a lot more like a man than I’d been previously accustomed to seeing. And, so far as I recall, it was the first time I’d actually conceded a real-live, over-the fence homer in a game. Disappointed, was probably about 10 or 15% of my reaction at the time. Glad to have started developing other skills, was what I felt much more strongly, however.
Print This Post