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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Season 2, Vol. 6) – The Complete Game

by Paul Semendinger

***



The pitcher’s mound at Veterans Field, Ridgewood, NJ                                                                               (Photo courtesy of Andrew Tavani)
The pitcher’s mound at Veterans Field, Ridgewood, NJ                                                                               (Photo courtesy of Andrew Tavani)


The pitcher’s mound at Veterans Field, Ridgewood, NJ

(Photo courtesy of Andrew Tavani)


How do these numbers sound?

7 innings pitched

6 runs, (maybe) 3 earned

No walks

5 strikeouts

To me, they sound pretty good. And they were pretty good. I was pretty good!

***

Now, truth be told, I’m not quite sure about some of those numbers. I try to keep track in my head, but the game moves quickly when you’re the pitcher.

I think I struck out five. But maybe it was five over nine innings. Maybe it was just four over those seven innings. Heck, it might have only been three. Who knows?

***

I love getting strikeouts. For a guy who doesn’t throw hard and doesn’t have killer (or even good) stuff, getting a strikeout is a rare treat. I do get a lot of two-strike counts, but I don’t have a killer put-him-away pitch. I do get a lot of pop ups (not always caught for outs) and weakly hit grounders (not always converted to outs) on two-strike counts. In short, I get batters to two strikes and then, often times, they’re standing on first (or second) somehow.

Since I don’t get a lot of strikeouts, maybe, just maybe, as the game goes on and I think about the ones I do get, they gain significance in my mind and become more than they were.

Maybe.

I’m thinking of a lot of things out there on the mound, and because of that, counting hits, errors, runs, earned runs, and such becomes impossible.

***

I do know two significant numbers from my last start though.

I went nine innings. I pitched a complete game. (Not bad for a 52-year-old guy.)

I also walked no batters in that game. (I am proud of that.)

On a hot day in Ridgewood, New Jersey, I went the distance (taking the loss) and I walked no one.

That’s a successful day in my book.

***

Best of all for this game was that my son Ethan was my catcher for all nine innings.

Playing baseball is wonderful.

Playing baseball with my son is a gift. I treasure each moment. Having these moments, when I am pitching to him is priceless.

Who cares about winning and losing when he gets to play ball with his son?

These are days and memories I will cherish forever.

***

The big reason I was able to pitch nine innings was because on this day, I was the team’s only available pitcher. I always feel I can go nine, but we also have other pitchers who also love throwing and getting their turn out there.

On this day, though, it was just me. There was no one else.

So I stepped up and did it.

***

And it was great.

***

The careful reader might have been doing some math as he or she read this passage. The careful reader might have realized that if there were only nine players available, they couldn’t have a DH for me.

And that’s true. On this day I had to hit.

Well, on this day I had to come up to bat, hitting was another story.

Coming into the game, I hadn’t had a hit in a baseball game since 1983. (Seriously.)

Leaving the game, that hitless streak continued.

In my first at-bat, I was hit-by-the-pitch. (At that moment, my on-base percentage was 1.000.)

In my next at-bat, I ground out weakly to… the catcher. (How embarrassing.)

In my third at-bat, I hit a line drive out to the second baseman. I hit it hard and well, but right at him.

In my final at bat, I struck out.

0-for-3.

***

I also need to share a true fact. When I was batting, I asked the other team’s catcher to ask his pitcher to throw the ball slowly to me. I knew I couldn’t hit anything fast.

I think he obliged.

And why not? They were killing us. The opposing pitcher took it easy on the old man who pitched (and had to bat). Since they were winning by so much, it wasn’t too much to not totally humiliate me at the plate.

***

The careful reader might have another question in his or her head…

I wrote about how well I did for seven innings, but I also said I pitched a nine inning complete game and both of those things are true.

Due to a number of factors, including (and primarily) my pitching, (I am sure)… we, as a team, allowed seven runs in the first two innings.

Those first two innings were ugly.

The final seven frames were good ones. Those were the seven innings shown in the stats above. Unfortunately the somewhat better pitching came after we were already getting killed.

***

Still, all-in-all it was a good game. It was a beautiful day. The sun was out. It was hot. I was playing ball, and pitching to my son.

It was all baseball.

And baseball is good.

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