Saturday, March 24, 2012

Baseball Teaches Character

My first high school games this year were on March 19. By that time I already had 26 college games under my belt for the year. It threatened rain all night at this varsity/junior varsity double header. I wondered why I took on this assignment. These were very average Midwest high school teams, not even in the same conference. To make matters worse, my partner wore wrinkled pants that had not seen the light of day in 2012, and had “happy feet” while on the dish.

The rain stayed away from the field, and after my partner struggled through his plate during the varsity game, I suited up for the jv game. I wondered where I was going to be bruised by the poor pitching and worse catching.

As the game progressed I ruined my college strike zone by going bigger and bigger, trying to get every close pitch for a strike. I started thinking of other high school assignments that I had accepted and how I could get out of them.

Then something wonderful happened.

Late in the game, with a large lead and no one on base, a batter hit a one-hopper back to the pitcher. As the pitcher made a lazy throw to first, I ran up the line behind the runner, who was running at about 70 percent. The throw beat the runner by about 30 feet.

However, the catcher sprinted at full speed to back up the throw.

As the catcher and I settled in behind the plate, I told him, “Good hustle on that play.”

He said, “I’m glad someone noticed. I wondered if it mattered.”.

We looked over at his coaches who were gathered in the dugout talking about the varsity game and not paying attention to the routine plays.

“It matters to those people who matter most. Those people always notice.”

I think I will hold onto my high school schedule.

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