The leadoff man singled to center. The number 2 hitter, failing to bunt him over drew a walk. Now it was my son’s turn. We have been putting in a little extra time in the cage, trying to get him “fixed”. We have watched his baseball training video over and over. I hate to sound like one of those Dads who is never happy, but he is capable of hitting better than he is. He has been telling me for years that his goal is to play college baseball like I did. He wants to be better and wants to play professionally. That is great. I know the odds though. I also know that the guys that make it don’t get there by not working hard. I have never watched an interview or read a book about a player that said that everything just came naturally to them. That they never had to work. That hitting a baseball was easy. So if he is going to have this dream, he needs to understand the committment. If he told me tomorrow that he was through with baseball, there would be a few tears, but I will support him either way.
In my first blog, I talked about my son’s struggle with accepting striking out. He couldn’t understand that other players were hitting the ball over the fence, but he was not. Through a lot of hard work, baseball power hitting instructional videos, and mental preperation, he finally realized you have to be able to “let it go” and not worry about failure. You also cannot try to hit homeruns. They just happen when you put a good swing on the ball and everything clicks. When he was 12, he hit 10 homeruns in his Little League season and All-Stars. Of course the fences are only 200′ at that level, which is pretty small for most 12 year olds. He also hit one on a bigger field with his travel ball team. After 12 year old baseball, the field suddenly gets a lot bigger. Those 200-225 foot fences go to 300+. That is quite a jump. At 14, most move up to high school sized fields. Most are around 320 down the lines and 380 in center. Of course all vary. Since the age of 12, he has not hit another homerun. Of course most of the boys his age haven’t.
Last night the pitcher came in with a fastball on the first pitch. He fouled it back. UGGGH! It was a very hittable pitch. We have talked and talked about as you move up in baseball, you get less and less good pitches to hit. You can’t afford to miss the good ones. Next pitch was a ball high. The next was outside. He had worked the count back in his favor. The next pitch came inside and almost hit him. He has always been very good about “taking one for the team”, but I think he wanted to hit with a 3-1 count. The 3-1 count is a hitters favorite count. If the pitcher throws anything but your favorite pitch in your sweet spot, you let it go(unless a play is on). If you get your pitch, you swing from the heels. Give it everything you’ve got.
The 3-1 pitch was a fastball, waist high, middle in. It was almost like slow motion. The load, the hips, the hands, the follow through and extension. The ball took off towards the left field line. The only question was whether it would stay fair. The scoreboard is down the line in leftfield and the field is outlined by big Leyland Cypresses. I could feel myself leaning in my seay trying to coax the ball fair. As the ball disappeared over the trees, I immediately looked at the homeplate umpire for the call. His right arm went out pointing towards fair territory and he signalled HOMERUN. I was so proud of my son, I almost cryed. He has put in so much work. Watched so many baseball instructional videos. Studied older, better hitters. Now he had his first high school homerun. I cannot wait for Thursday’s game.