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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Season 2, vol. 1)

It felt good to be back on a mound and throwing strikes. I wasn’t throwing as hard as I would have liked – the fastball didn’t seem to have much bite and the curve ball I (somewhat) discovered was mostly straight as an arrow. Still, I was getting by due to some fancy fielding from the guys behind me. My infield had turned a double play in almost every inning to get me out of a few jams. It was my first start of the year and I had made it into the eighth inning having allowed only one run on eight hits. I had walked two and struck out two.

But then the bat broke…

***

On January 8, 2020 I went in for surgery to repair the interstitial tears in my right Achilles tendon. I had battled through the pain and discomfort for years, running a marathon on it in 2018 and playing both softball and baseball on it. The summer before, I even pitched a nine inning complete game with the tears in my Achilles.

I just love to run and I love to play ball.

But it was finally time to get repaired.

After more than a month on crutches and then a walking boot, I was free of the encumbrances. It was now March. My physical therapy was going well. I took out a lacrosse ball and threw it softly against the wall of my garage. It was time to wake up my pitching arm… the baseball season would be starting soon and I wanted to be ready.

And then everything changed.

Covid-19.

Soon I didn’t need a wall in order to have a catch, I had my son Ethan home. His college had closed due to the pandemic. How long he’d be home, we didn’t know. I’m an elementary school principal, my school had just closed. I also didn’t know for how long.

But Ethan was home, so we had a catch.

That was Saturday, March 14.

Our baseball season was supposed to begin in April, but due to the serious health concerns, that didn’t happen. For a long while, it seemed like there wouldn’t be a 2020 season. Still, Ethan and I got out our gloves and tossed the baseball back and forth…

Throughout the late winter, into the spring, and now into summer, we threw together. My arm got stronger (as did my Achilles). Ethan and were ready when, or if, the call ever came. If there was to be a 2020 season, we’d be able to jump right in.

On June 23, official word came. There will be a season. It looks like July 12 (which just happens to be my birthday) will be Opening Day.

With the news that ball fields were now open, finally, Ethan and I ventured to our local full size baseball field and played a simulated game. I pitched. Ethan batted. Went inning by inning keeping score the whole way. After three outs, I’d sit in the dugout for a few minutes.

We had a rule that benefited me a great deal – ground balls to the infield with a runner on first and less than two outs were always a double play. Because of this, I got out of many tight spots.

Ethan hit me pretty hard. I didn’t throw many balls past him. And, my curves and such did little if any movement. Still, I was able to record two strikeouts. That’s always fun. I pitched like it was a real game. I gave it my best.

I wanted to pitch nine innings, but we seem to have a problem when we do things like this. Either I throw extremely hard, or I have a devastating cutter like Mariano Rivera, or Ethan just has a propensity for breaking bats, but with one out in the eighth, Ethan swung and the bat went CRACK.

Another broken bat.

Wood leagues are tough.

Our ballgame was over.

Still, it was great to throw off a mound. Ethan had fun hitting. It is always great to have this time with Ethan. This is what baseball is all about – family. For me that means a father and his sons. Because he has to go back to college earlier this summer, Ethan and I won’t have many games together. I’ll cherish each game, each practice, and each catch that we have together.

Season 2 is just around the corner.

It’s great to be back!

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