Baseball is apparently not like cricket! The bowler is not a bowler he is a pitcher. The batter may bat but he is a hitter. And rather than running in straight lines they run in circles and end up where they started. If that is where they wanted to end up they could surely have just stayed still and saved all the energy!
Why am I learning all this? Well Oliver has joined Little League which is a baseball league for kids, which in turn means as his doting father I have taken an interest! He had to go for an evaluation to be put into a local team and before he went I thought that it would be good if we got to grips with the game.
As I was away for a few days on a cruise Oli went for his first practice with Paul Sanchez (a friend from church and Oliver’s maths teacher) and his son Jake. I went the second time and I have to say I was very impressed with my son.
After some instruction I stood at one end and fed balls into a machine which hurled them with frightening speed at my poor boy… and all he had to defend himself with was a baseball bat! He did a sterling job of hitting the balls back at me and almost hit me on several occasions. Time and time again the balls flew away and came straight back… I think he may have found his true vocation… or maybe it is just an easy game to play. I thought that, but maybe I shouldn’t have said that!
2 minutes later I was wearing a helmet and holding the bat and at the wrong end of the cage and trying to remember how to bat when playing ‘rounders’, surely this is similar. The balls came down and I swung wildly, after about 4 or 5 balls I surprised myself by hitting one, then another… then Paul said as I’d got my eye in it was time to set it to the adult speed!
Another ball was dropped in the chute and before I could swing… actually before I could blink, there was a resounding thud as the ball hit the protective cushion behind me and fell to the floor. I imagined what it would be like if it hit me and another ball went bang. I started swinging and hoping and after 3 or 4 I made contact. It was a very thin contact but I touched the ball and thought ‘I can do this!’ The next ball sailed past my head, but the one after that I caught on the sweet spot of the bat and it flew back down the pitch towards the machine and the person who was loading it. They ducked and my job was done. I quit while I was ahead. After all this was for Oliver not me! To be honest my shoulder hurt and I could still feel the vibrations all the way up my arm!
We left and I was feeling proud of Oliver’s hitting ability. He hardly missed a ball out of the 200 or so that he swung at and he had never played the game before.
The evaluation was this morning and quite a lot of kids, some from Oli’s year group at school were there. Once again I was a proud father as they went through their paces. Fielding: Oli was as good as any of the others with his catching mitt (not glove… I’m learning). Pitching: needs work, but he pitched a few good ones even though he has never done it before. Batting: He only missed one!
The Little league season starts in a few weeks, which gives us a few weeks to decide which professional team he should play for when he leaves college.