Friday, January 28, 2011

The Beginning

I am new to blogging. I have read a few but never created one of my own until today. It is a cold January day and it snowed again. I look outside and am chilled and a bit depressed. I want to go out....I want to walk....I want to see flowers and birds....I am feeling a bit needy....

Actually, what I really want is for baseball season to begin. For the past 14 years, baseball has been a large part of  our family life. Beginning with t-ball with my 4 year old son and jettisoning to an 18 year old division 1 player, where did the time go?

One of my earliest memories of this boy is when I gave his older sister a Fisher Price plastic tee ball set with the wide bat. She used it twice & put it down, but when he learned to walk, he picked up the bat and swung at the ball...over and over and over again. He was a one year old boy and when he hit the ball, it sailed across the yard and into the trees. I remember thinking...hmmm...this is interesting. I have video of this feat with my own sister's voice in the background muttering..."this is amazing..." At the time, I thought...maybe....who knew?

Anyway, he seemed to be very happy when he had his bat and ball. When the kids played tee-ball through the YMCA, the games were hysterical. A ball would be hit toward the pitcher's mound, all 9 defensive players would run to the mound and jump on the ball to field it. It was so funny....this type of defensive play went on and on until one of the coaches decided to line them up and call out each child's name to field the ball. This way, everyone got a shot at touching the ball.

Tee ball gave way to coach pitch....player pitch...ten year old league....all star games...elementary school junior and senior varsity games...then high school and travel and legion games. He would play 50 or so games a year and he never lost his passion for the sport.

Coaching and travel expenses mounted and he appreciated all of the support. He attended all kinds of camps and Showcases on the east coast. Showcases are run by the college coaches. They bring a number of college ball playing wannabes and charge them $300+ for two days. The kids would "showcase" their talents and coaches would offer tips to improve their game. The actual point of these showcases was to bring the talent to the coaches so they could assess their strengths and perhaps offer them a position or scholarship on their team. Sadly, 99% of the players would be rejected. Perhaps one or two players would catch a coach's eye as a possibility.

With that said, "Buddy" (my son) would attend all kinds of showcases. We traveled to Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Coaches would watch, observe, comment, and often reject. It could be a humiliating experience for the player. Yet, Buddy persisted. He would be mentally down then decide that he would work harder. Coaches would contact his high school coach with questions about his play, yet nothing serious happened until January of his senior year. Keep in mind, most scholarship athletes are signed in July. So, he was beginning to lose hope, then 2 large division 1 schools expressed interest in him. He was happy...happy...happy....and ready to commit to a school in Delaware when something miraculous happened.....

A very large, well known northeastern university held a showcase at the academy where he is coached during the off-season. At the time, he was coaching elementary school children at his high school and did not even consider going to the showcase. In his mind, he was going to the Delaware of the showcase coaches approached his personal pitching coach and mentioned that he was looking for a left handed pitcher. His coach ( a minor league ball pitcher for the Reds) immediately called Buddy and told him to get to the academy as soon as possible. Buddy did not have a chance to get nervous, be prepared, or eat his usual snack before he met the D-1 coach. When he arrived, he warmed up and threw...and threw...and threw....the coach then stood in the batter's box and told him which pitches to throw...he was amazed and this moment began a process that still puzzles me.We traveled all over the east coast and he was "discovered" in our own backyard (literally 5 minutes from the house).

Got to go....more in my next blog.....

No comments:

Post a Comment