So a lot of times when I do these stories, they’re about unfortunate moments in my athletic career, whether they be concussions or failing to drill a kid. This one will be a little different, as it’s one of my prouder, if not proudest, moment in my athletic career. It’s from the same season as the one where I tried and failed to headhunt a kid for being an ass in the batter’s box. In fact, it was from the last game of the season, well for me that is. We had made the playoffs, but because I was going on a trip to Michigan with my family the next day, I would miss all of it except the first round game. This was for a rec league, otherwise there might have been a problem with my travel schedule. Knowing this, my coach had me as the starting pitcher in this game.
The first inning did NOT go well, as I surrendered 3 early runs, struggling with my command. In the bottom half, I was batting leadoff and I struck out on four pitches. I was someone who took it personally when I struck out. It basically ruined my day if I did it even once. But not today. I actually don’t remember most of the rest of the game up until the 6th inning. But I do know that I did not let up another run until the 7th and final inning on the mound.
It was 3-2 bad guys when the bottom of the 6th inning rolled around. I had been pitching my heart out for the last five innings and we were still losing and I felt responsible given that I had given up all three runs in the first. I was due up second after a kid that had struggled all season, but he was also one of those kids who was just kind of there because his parents signed him up, not because he loved the game. I remember standing in the on-deck circle thinking to myself “please get on, I’m feeling it right now and I hit so much better with runners on base.” I don’t know if that was statistically true, but I always felt more confident hitting with runners on. But for whatever reason, I was amped up for this next at bat. I expected it to be my last at bat of the season and I wanted to go out with a bang. Well the kid did the unthinkable and drew an 8-pitch walk. I’d never been more excited than when he drew that walk. I thought to myself “I’ll take it from here.” I stepped up at the plate and stared down the pitcher.
Ball one. First pitch missed pretty badly. Next pitch came in and I fouled it back. Wasn’t a great pitch, but it looked like a strike and I was the type of hitter who would pounce on a pitch the moment I thought it was going to be a strike. If I wasn’t confident it was a strike, I didn’t swing. The third pitch missed up and away but I thought it looked pretty good there. I was able to lay off, but I thought to myself “if he can bring it down just a little bit, I can unload on it.” Earlier in that season, I had absolutely OBLITERATED a ball that was up and over the heart of the plate. I had hit that ball so hard that I dented my favorite bat (it’s actually the one in the picture above. That picture is not from the game in question, but it was played on the same field). But the ball went 300 feet and I was basically able to walk to second base with a double. I hit it so hard that the next time I came up, the shortstop was telling the outfielders to back up, which I always saw as the ultimate sign of respect at our age. Hell, I was a 14 year-old kid who just hit a ball 300 feet. Granted, the next at bat, I hit a dribbler to third and was easily retired, but still, the power was in me.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the pitcher put the ball in the exact spot I was hoping for. It was up and away, but still in the strike zone. I don’t think I could have timed it up any more perfectly. I went with the pitch and hit a BOMB to the opposite field in right. The last thing I remember from that play was the right fielder running back. I never saw the ball hit the ground, but I knew I didn’t clear the yard because nobody had signaled for a home run. So I booked it around the bases. As I was rounding second, I saw my third base coach give me the signal to come to third. I saw that the runner on first was already on his way home and the ball still hadn’t gotten back to the infield. I slid into third with my first ever clean triple (I had hit one before but it was loaded with errors). As I was sliding into third (which I didn’t need to do, but I wanted to be sure), I saw that my team’s dugout on the third base side was exploding in cheers. I had no idea how excited everybody was for this hit, as I had kind of blacked out rounding the bases. I had to come up with some sort of celebration to do after I popped up on the bag. I’m not great at coming up with celebrations on the fly, so I just clapped my hands together about as hard as humanly possible. They didn’t seem to mind the simple celebration as they continued to cheer and all of a sudden there was a newfound energy as I had just tied the game up in the bottom of the 6th (in a league where the game ends after 7 innings). The batter after me wasted no time in driving me in, as he found a hole between the shortstop and third baseman and I scored easily from third to give us the lead. That was the spark we needed, as we scored 4 more runs before heading into the top of the 7th. Our opponents looked pretty defeated after that, as their 3-2 lead had turned into an 8-3 deficit in a matter of 3 outs. Sure I let up another run in the top of the 7th, but that was mostly from good baserunning and with 2 outs, the batter hit a dribbler to me and I easily flipped it over to first to end the game. For my performance, I was awarded the game ball. Never had I been prouder of any of my athletic achievements than I was in that moment.
I later found out that while my brother and I were in Michigan, my team had lost in the semifinals to the team that would eventually win the entire league. I was disappointed, but I was proud we made it as far as we did. That’s it for another of my stories. Let me know what you thought in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon. Also, I wanted to apologize for there not being a blog yesterday. I had a VERY eventful day. My family was meeting at one of our favorite restaurants and I surprised my godson with tickets to Sunday night’s WWE pay per view Clash of Champions in Boston. As for the end of that Patriots game, the officials made the right call on that “catch,” but something needs to be done about that rule to clear things up on what is and isn’t a catch.