Thursday, September 18, 2003

My best swing

A while back I wrote a entry about the best catch I ever made. I described a diving catch I made for a ball while playing softball in Okinawa. What the hell, I'll brag again today.

Only one thing really got me through the last semester of my senior year in high school: baseball season. By the time that last semester rolled around I had already signed the contract that was going to put me in the Marines and I was ready to get the hell out Northern Michigan. But I loved baseball. I loved everthing about it. The two hours of practice every day after school, taking ground balls at my position of first base, taking batting practice and just being on the field. I loved the caraderie among teammates, the foul language and the secretive use of chewing tobacco. Playing my last season of baseball is what kept me from completely losing what little interest in schoolwork I had at that point. You had to pass all your classes to play on a sporting team and that is what I proceded to do. Pass. I took the hard classes and paid just enough attention to pass the tests. I always figured that getting a C in trigonometry was better than skating through general math.

The week before the actual baseball season started there was a big party at some state park in the area. It was one of those legendary parties where everyone from the school shows up that can only happen at a small high school like the one I attended. At some point in the night someone hooked a chain up to some of those bullet shaped wooden structures that keeps vehicles from driving into the picnic area and pulled several of them out of the ground. This brough in the authorities and names were named and it turned out that every upperclassmen member of the baseball team was there except for me and my friend, Dennis. Dennis wasn't at the party because his car broke down on the way there and I wasn't there because I was spending the weekend in another county at my Father's home. Every other upper classmen was suspended for a quarter of the baseball season. That left our baseball team with Dennis, me and a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.

Our first game of the new season that meant anything took place at our home field. Our field was one of the better fields in the county. That was all due to our coach and his ability to get people to do what he needed. I assume from his comments that it meant getting the maintenance crew off their butts.

That first doubleheader was against a team from a larger school that considered to have a good program. I don't remember if we won or not. All I remember is the Hit. I am a left-handed batter which put me a great advantage at the level of ball we were playing. In the two years I started at the varsity level I faced only one left-handed pitcher. He made me look like an idiot. For some reason I walked into this doubleheader really confident.

The at-bat that sticks in my memory is one where the only time in my life I actually stood in the batter's box after hitting a ball and watched it fly. It was an inside pitch and I jumped all over. I was a dead pull hitter and feasted on inside fast balls. The only time I have ever hit a ball harder was in the batting cage which is easy because the speed is constant. I knew when I hit this ball it was either going to be a homerun or a foul ball. After it travelled a ways I knew it was going to be foul so I stood there. A sophomore teammate named Chris screamed, "Run!" from the dugout but I didn't move. I continued to watch as the ball curved to the right and landed out beyond the fence way out in foul territory.

On the next pitch I did the same thing and Chris was joined by the rest of the team in screaming at me to run. This one was closer to being a fair ball but I could tell for sure it was going to land foul. My standing in the batter's box was causing a near riot in the dugout. They couldn't understand why I wasn't running. After the second foul ball I turned and said to Chris, "It was foul!" He yelled back, "You gotta run it out!"

I guess it looked like I was showboating. I wasn't. Even the opposing catcher and the umpire could tell they were foul balls but I guess we were the only ones that could truly tell.

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