The first one every year I missed

I never struck out playing baseball in College and High School and Big League. Twice I hit over .500 and one of those years I hit over .600. I always batted cleanup. I walked often. I never made an error.

I may have been an overachiever. Maybe not.

Every year from age 15-20 I would workout with weights. I added hand grips and wrist rollers to strengthen my wrists. I experimented and developed a hitting style that matches what many know as a flat bat. I read books by hitting greats such as Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

I would go to practice and games and try my best.

My grandfather provided guidance and inspiration.

I think my secret weapon — secret only in that I had to do it alone — was started on the gravel based road in front of my home. I used old wooden bats and threw stones up and hit the the stones. I think every year I missed the first one I threw up to hit. By the end of each year I could throw up a tiny stone high in the air and hit it in any direction precisely as a line drive, ground ball or high fly home run drive. I could even hit a foul ball up in the air at will and then hit a home run as the stone returned to where I was hitting.

The wooden bats got lighter from the stones withering them away so I pounded a few nails in at the bottom.

My hands would develop thick callouses.

I had a naturally fast bat.

I never met a pitcher whom I did not hit well who threw me at least one strike; whether that pitcher was me throwing stones or playing against Duke University in North Carolina. In fact I remember home runs I hit but never once completely missed (struck at without fouling the ball) a pitch by an opposing pitcher throwing a baseball incredibly in High School, College, and Big League Baseball.

I did miss or strike at several stones each year. Without fail, the first stone I threw up to hit every year, I struck at and missed. Even in years I tried my best not to miss the first one. One year I even resorted to bunting and missed that first stone.

I knew I had progressed when I could throw about 30-50 stones in succession up in the air and hit each one precisely where I wanted to hit it. Somewhere across the street at 751 Garrison Road lie the fruits of my labor in a field that lies fallow that used to grow corn. To the one side are still some of the trees that helped me determine how far the stones went into the field.

It seems that for the things that came easy I moved on to other things in my life.

I miss hitting.

I wish now that I had missed more stones.

Louis DeCola Jr. The Hygiology Post

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply