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  • Writer's picturePaul Semendinger

Making My Pitch…

By Paul Semendinger

April 4, 2024

***

Note - Please see my other site, www.drpaulsem.com for other passages, not only about baseball. This article originally appeared on that site.

***

It’s a cold and rainy early April day. It’s the kind of day that makes one not mind spending the day inside.


I’m writing a very detailed and comprehensive book about the Battle of Gettysburg. I didn’t mind being stuck at my computer for the majority of the day. (I don’t often feel that way when it is warm and sunny and bright outside.)


I had plans to throw with my son Ethan this afternoon, the Opening Day of our baseball season is Sunday, but the rain cancelled those plans. Still, I needed to get my throwing in. I’m a pitcher. I’m hoping for the Opening Day start and Opening Day is just around the corner.


A few years ago my sons bought me a large pitching net that I set up in our room downstairs so I can throw to prepare for the season. I begin my throwing program in January after taking the most of October, November, and December off following the baseball season. I work out in those months, it is in November, after all, that I run the New York City Marathon. I exercise, I just don’t throw a baseball. But once January comes, so does my throwing.


I’ll turn 56-years-old this summer. I pitch in two 35-year-old (plus) baseball leagues. I’m more than two decades older than my youngest competition. It’s important that I prepare early. I have to make sure my arm is strong.


When I tell people I pitch, most assume that I’ve been pitching my whole life. That’s not true. Except for playing Wiffle Ball, and one season as a high school junior in 1985, I never really pitched. In fact, I wasn’t ever even considered a good baseball player. I did, once, make a Little League level All-Star team, but that was because they needed players. It was me or an empty bench. (As I recall, I fulfilled my role well, I don’t think I appeared in any games, but I did keep the bench occupied.)


My baseball career ended after that 1985 high school season, when I was a junior pitching JV ball. All the other juniors, along with the seniors, and most of the sophomores made varsity that year. It was me and a bunch of freshmen that made up the JV squad. Yeah, that was the year I pitched…


And then, 34 years later, two wonderful dads from the school where I was principal asked me to join their baseball team. I had been playing softball for decades, but baseball and softball, especially real baseball (like we play) and recreation softball, are two vastly different sports.


After some prodding, the convinced me to give it a go – as a pitcher. I didn’t have a fastball that was anything close to resembling fast and I had no curve ball to speak of. I told them that all I can do is throw strikes. That seemed to be the only qualification so I made the team…

That summer we lost all of our games. I pitched, a lot. I threw a lot of strikes. I also got hit hard. A lot. But it was so much fun. My big accomplishment was going the distance, pitching nine full innings, in my last start of the season.


The next year I won my first game. It was the only game I won, but it was the first time I had won a game as a pitcher in more than three and a half decades.


That winter, as an old man, I took pitching lessons. I learned to throw a little harder and I developed a curve ball that curved… occasionally. I was also drafted, from the baseball school, onto another team. “We always need pitchers,” the coach said.


I was now pitching twice a week many weeks for two different teams in two different leagues.

That summer, I helped my second team, the new team, win a tournament in Cooperstown, New York. I pitched and won the game to put us into the finals – on Doubleday Field in the shadows of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I didn’t think anything could be better than that.


Last summer, with my original team, I faced a former big leaguer and (with the help of some great defense by my teammates) got him out both times I faced him. A few weeks later, we won the league championship. What can be better than that?


On Sunday, we begin a season anew. I’ve been working hard. Today was my last throwing day. In my downstairs room, taking a break from my research on Gettysburg (I was, somewhat appropriately, studying the actions that General Abner Doubleday took while at Gettysburg) and began throwing.


I threw 200 pitches into that net. I threw hard and well. I’m ready. I’m ready for the new season. If I get the start, and if they need me to, I can go the distance on Opening Day.


I can’t wait!

13 comments

13 Comments


morgana16032
Apr 08

I can tell how passionate you are about this topic, it's infectious. geometry dash meltdown

Like

rcuicchi
Apr 05

Good luck on your new season. Forget the curveball, throw ‘em the heater!

Like
Paul Semendinger
Paul Semendinger
Apr 05
Replying to

Thanks again for your article!!!

Like

fuster
Apr 05


Like
Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Apr 05
Replying to

I suspect with Paul that it's more, "I think I'll perplex him with my slow ball."

Like

Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Apr 04

You're definitely doing SOMETHING right. You have been pitching all of these years, in all of these games, in all of these leagues, and you're still pitching at the age of 55, and you have never needed Tommy John surgery. Nowadays, that's a major accomplishment!

Like
Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Apr 05
Replying to

Can't be worse than McGough! (Though that was a terrible strike three call.)

Like
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