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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize ...

Today I helped my son and his bride of 9 months move into a new apartment in St. Peters. It's a much nice, much safer place than they have been living in. It was actually fun to help them move their stuff and see them light up at the prospect of life in their new "joint."

But the coolest part of the day came before the moving began. I met my brother-in-law, Jim, at their old apartment and they had not yet arrived from picking-up their key at the new place. So we did something all red blooded American men do. We went to ... THE BATTING CAGES!

Okay, it's been about ten years since I was THAT red blooded. But I got my tokens, my complimentary helmet, loaner bat, and headed to the baseball "medium pitch" batting cage. Debbie and Jim stood outside as I took a few practice swings, deposited the fake coin into the slot, and stepped into the batters box.

You know. Ten years is a long time. This particular cage was suppose to clock out at 60 MPH. That might not be much to Albert Pujols but it's about the speed of a bus on the highway to me. The light came on at the machine. I dimly saw a baseball drop into a rocket like contraption. And then, "Holy moley, what was that?" Zing! Swing! Whop. The ball came. I pulled the trigger on the bat just about the time the catcher would have been throwing it back to the pitcher. Zing! Swing! Whop. I slapped at the first three swings as a right handed batter without so much as a foul ball. I looked and felt sadly pathetic swinging wildly. Zing! Swing! Whop. And then the strangeness kicked in. The very first time I picked up a bat as a little kid I started swinging from the left side of the plate. I have no idea why. I don't do anything else left handed. I golf from the right side. I write right handed. I pet doggies and tickle "The Amazing Elle" right handed. But batting left handed just always felt natural to me. So I moved over.

Suddenly the aluminum bat began meeting the horsehide ball. That's when I remembered the purpose for batting gloves. I mean like,... ouch! Still, it felt so sweet to hit a baseball for the first time in this millennium. I didn't set the baseball world on fire. And I didn't dare step into the 80 MPH batting cage.

Yet.

It felt good. Right up to the moment when my elbow popped and I remembered that I'm not in high school anymore. So I hung up the bat and helmet one more time. I'll be back. I'll have more tokens. And once again I'll make the cubs wonder why they didn't sign me earlier. (I'm holding out for a last minute contract just in time to propel me into the upcoming World Series.)

Ahhhh. Eyes on the ball. The swing of the bat. The sweet vision of the ball rocketing toward left field KNOWING it would most certainly evade the grasp of all outfielders.

Can you smell it? Can you? That's the smell of .... Cracker Jacks. Candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize. You. Are. All. Mine.

4 comments:

kristi McGill said...

cracker JACK (no s) come on you got the picture RIGHT there!!!!

somebody's not a true baseball fan

jimbarnard said...

i couldn't believe how much better you were on the left side... it was respectable.
we have to do it again soon!
by the way, pretty sure the balls are made out of some sort of rubber or polymer. just for clarification.

Anonymous said...

I was reading Jimmys blog and your blog and I was was feeling quite jealous for the good times you all have together.

Jeff

Doug Clark said...

(Quite) a few years ago, I was on a church softball team. I had great power in my right side, but couldn't hit the ball. See, I'm blind on that side. So, in batting practice, I would take about 3-5 pitches on the left side, where I could connect. That gave me enough point of reference that I was able to turn around and use my right, adding power.

Now, understand that having no depth perception, I could and would swing at anything and usually hit it (slow pitch softball) so I always waited out the first two pitches.