Alright, this is rather long. And I’m not sure if this should be posted here, but it’s an inspiring story about my tryouts last year.
Last summer I decided to go to the Atlanta Braves tryout. The reason was that Joe Simpson and Don Sutton convinced me (indirectly) that MLB needs left handed pitching. So I thought to myself, “What the heck, I can pitch.” I mean, after all in high school during my sophomore year (even though I didn’t make the team because I was in band at the same time…man I’m a geek) I threw 70 mph at the baseball tryouts. I’d figured that since I still threw everyday that I should be able to throw at least 85 mph or more. Now you have to understand, when I threw, I threw in my back yard. The longest length in my backyard was about 50 feet. Also another thing to point out is that I was 22 years of age, 5’3”, and weighed a buck twenty-five. I’m definitely setting myself up for disaster.
Anyways, my father and I spent the night and watched the All Star game. It was pretty good; I believe McCann had a hit or two. The next day when I got to the tryouts, it was all business. There were some college and high school kids. Some of the guys looked older than the required 16 to 23 year old crowd that was required. Muscles and testosterone was the name of the game for the most part. Oh and there was little old me, lol. One of the guys wanted to warm up and needed a person to play catch. I was like, “Ok!” and went on with him. Now when I warm up I usually throw little sissy lobs first. We were standing about 45 feet from each other. All of a sudden he tosses me one….The dad-gone ball almost broke my hand, lol. This was a shock to me. I didn’t know that they warmed up with such a fast pitch. I’ve heard of getting loose, but man this was insane. I remember thinking to myself that I should’ve brought a cup with me. I did manage to keep up with him. With me, if I see someone throwing hard, I try to match them. I uh, did my best. For some odd reason this guy (6’2”) had a hard time not throwing over my head (which tops out at 5’3”). So I chased a few balls.
Alright, so it was time for the pitchers to go. Before hand the fielders did their thing with the batting and catching and what not. Man before I get to the next part. Going to a one day tryout is so easy for us pitchers. We do nothing but chat. Everyone else has to run and perform. We just sit back and relax. Alright, with my second warm up attempt (one with a catcher) I notice something weird. 60’6” seemed insanely far away. I could barely get the ball over there. It was madness. The catcher looked at me after I threw about 20 legit pitches and said “Are you ready?” I looked at him, drenched in sweat and nodded “Uh-huh…” At that time, I knew I was out of my league….BIG TIME. The catcher threw the ball back harder than I did to him. 60’6” seemed so far that I dared not to throw my baseball.
Ok so since I was the first one to sign my card, I was the first one to pitch. Man that hill was high. And the rain didn’t help my stability at all. I threw as hard as I possibly could. The ball went right to the catcher (at least something went right). All of a sudden the scout told me to throw a couple of curves. I sighed and did what he demanded. Not one, NOT ONE curveball hit the catcher’s mitt. At that time, I had this funky curveball that I experimented in my backyard (that’s 50 ft. long) that I spun out of my hand. Kind of like snapping your fingers and letting it drop. That ball went all over the place. I think, I bounced a couple to the plate. It’s so surreal to watch this happen to you. Anyways after that was done, I went back to the fastball. Man it felt good. I was impressed with it. I wanted to shout to the world that Jay Ayers’ has arrived. After I was done the scout didn’t really talk about my fastball. He was interested in me learning how to throw the curve and suggest that I should come back the next year and try it again after working on it. After that I asked him “How fast did I top out.” His response was “SIXTY FIVE!!”
There are lessons to be learned from this. One was that I wasn’t nervous at all. I knew that I wasn’t going to make any minor league teams. I wasn’t seasoned. That made sense. I came in thinking that it was a learning experience. No I don’t blame “The Rookie” for putting this idea of going to a tryout and making a team in my head. It was a LEARNING experience. Now with that said. I have worked pretty hard on throwing. I throw almost everyday at farther distances. Mostly 120, 90 and 60 feet stuff. I can reach 150 feet until my elbow gets annoyed. Probably I can throw 210 feet or more now (on a line), but I don’t want to push it. I’m slowly working on building my endurance and arm strength. I’m noticing that 60”6’ seems a heck of a lot closer these days. I guess that means that I’m on the right page now. My curveball is sick. It gets better everyday. I’ve always had movement with my fastball. It’s starting to make a sizzling sound when I throw it. I’ve came pretty far in less than a year so far. I think a little too far. My family don’t want to play catch with me anymore. I do want to go tryout this year, but if I’m not ready, I’ll just by pass this one and definitely go to the next one when I’m 24. Perhaps you’ll see me someday in the majors. You can’t miss me. I’ll be the one who looks like a kid on the mound.