Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cunicio ergo sum (I pitch, therefore I am)

When a local magistrate ordered William Tell to shoot an apple off his son’s head, William Tell took out two arrows. He notched the first one and split the apple.

“Was the second arrow in the event you missed high?” the magistrate asked after Tell’s successful first shot.

Tell shook his head. “It was for you in case I missed low.”

So what does William Tell have to do with parenting and baseball?

My 7-year old dreams of being a pitcher. He practices at home and I play catcher for as long as my knees will allow. His favorite Braves player is still Brian McCann, but after that it’s Kenshin Kawakami. (My kids are half Japanese, so they went nuts when the Braves got a player from Japan.) My younger son wanted to pitch on his previous teams, but didn’t get the opportunity. However, this fall, that finally changed. He finally started working in the pitcher’s role (playing third base when he’s not on the mound). When the little guy took his warm-up tosses with the coach. He did so well that the coach picked him as the first pitcher in the opening game.

However, the coach had to get him over one problem…facing live batters. With no one in the batter’s box, my son has no problem finding the strike zone. However, put a batter there and he gets wild. Apparently, this is a problem with young kids in their first time as pitcher. They’re afraid of hitting the other kids. It’s a mental block. You tell them to forget the player and concentrate on the mitt. A difficult thing to do. My older son volunteered to serve as the batter (a target my younger occasionally wants to hit anyway), but the coaches preferred to take the lumps themselves.

So, when last Saturday night arrived, my little guy took the mound. (My wife and I were nervous, as any parent would be.) He walked the first two batters, got the third one out on a fielder’s choice, and then struck out the final two to end the inning. We were psyched. Unfortunately, the next inning didn’t go as well. The first batter reached on an error and my son walked the second one. The third one hit a two-strike grounder that got by the third baseman and plated both men on base. My son was pulled (for pitch count reasons, as he was closing in on 50 pitches).

My younger son made up for it in the next inning, scorching a single to right that brought two men on base home. However, he was still dejected about his pitching performance (that and his team losing). I was a proud Dad, though, and I let him know it after the game. “Kawakami couldn’t have done any better,” I said. That cheered him up. For his performance, the coach named him the captain of the next game.

Now, he looks forward to his next game and he wants to get back on the mound. I know he’ll get better and I can’t wait. Maybe he’s still scared of hitting the other kids, but he doesn’t show it. However, there is one worry. The other team’s pitcher hit four kids on my son’s team.

Thank goodness for batting helmets!

Readers, have you faced situations like this?

No comments: