I mentioned it here the other day. My son getting his first chance to pitch in little league. His Coach decided to give the young lefty a chance to show his stuff since we have another game two days later and I am trying to preserve the young arms.
Yes, I'm the coach. I love the responsibility and the opportunity to teach 9 & 10 year olds a game that I love. I have always enjoyed baseball, always been a fan of the game, reading my daily boxscores. Baseball conjures thoughts of spring, carefree summer days shagging baseballs or just enjoying a game on TV or in person.
Anyhow, the little league season just started in the Northeast. Second game into the season and we have a third game two days later. I'll give the boy a chance to pitch.
Saturday game day - I'm nervous. I'm not worried about W's or L's. I'm worried about the kids having fun and not losing their confidence. Still, I've told my son he's pitching today or Monday. I have three kids who can pitch at this level. Let's see if I have another one. Gotta start somewhere.
Fast Forward - the game is going pretty well. We are playing one of the best teams in the league and we are holding our own, trailing by four runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Hey, buddy. I want you to pitch in the top of the fifth. Hold the phone. Oh, my. My team ties the game. Am I still going in Dad? Yup. Oh, my!
I notice when he's warming up that the boy is nervous. Is this a mistake? Is he ready? Well, he really wants to do this so here goes.
The poor guy has the jitters bad and has a hard time finding the plate. I look at my wife and see the anguish in her face. Yikes, I tried not to push the kid and still I put him in a postion that he wasn't ready for. This is unbearable.
All of the sudden, we get an out. Still the boy struggles finding the strike zone. I shout encouragement. He relaxes a bit but has difficulty finding his stride. Bases loaded three runs in. A shot up the middle, the shortstop grabs it in the air and races to second, tags the base...unassisted double play, inning over. Yes!
My son runs off the field beaming. He just gave up five runs, three earned but he's excited. I'm a glutton for punishment. Buddy sit down and relax you're pitching the last inning.
Last inning - a few errors to start off. Oh, no. Not again Mr. Bill. Bases loaded. Yikes.
The most wonderful thing then happened. I sent the assistant coach out to calm the boy. Next thing you know, it's looney tunes and bugs bunny. One, two, three strikes yer out. What? One out then two. Two strikeouts with the bases loaded. The kid is dancing around the mound. We are almost out of this. A shot to the shortstop. He grabs the ball. Tags second. Oh, yeah! Inning over. We go down quickly but the kids are ecstatic especially my boy.
I'm not sure when he'll pitch again but he has the confidence now. His coach sure is relieved and proud.