I changed schools in 7th grade. I made the school team there but all of the kids on the team were very nasty towards me and offensive. I made the team as a relief pitcher. The guy before me let up about 8 runs in 3 innings. I was sent in to pitch with 1 out 3 on in the bottom of the 3rd. I struck out the next two guys to come up and then threw 4 shutout innings. I was getting called names even by my own team and getting boo’d even as I was doing a fantastic job. At the end of the game my coach sat us all down and he told everyone how he was disgusted at their treatment towards me and told me that I was the only player who played with some dignity and respect for others. Despite the remarks from my own teammates, I never said a word back to them. I didn’t make the team next year and stopped playing in high school. However, I’m turning 19 soon and I have been staying in shape and throwing. I’ve tested my fastball to be about 81 82 mph after 5 years of not playing baseball. I plan on trying out and trying to walk on this upcoming school season. I decided to write this because 1 coach changed my thinking and my confidence. He had faith in me and I became a great asset to that 7th grade team. I have confidence now even as I try out for a college D1 team. Whether I make it or not I’ll keep trying and join a team afterwards. If anyone also has any pointers on how I could prepare and waht the coaches are looking for, that would be greatly appreciated. My mechanics are what I’m hoping the coaches for looking for, since I hide the ball very well til the last second and have great arm action coming over the top. Thanks for reading.
Good for you, double time—first, for not letting those kids get to you, and second for staying with it and working to get on a college team. I wish you all the luck in the world, and kudos to that coach who didn’t give up on you.
As for my greatest baseball moment—there have been so many I’m hard put to pick one, but I think I’ll settle on September 17, 1951 which will forever be known for me as “The Day Of The Slider”. I was sixteen and thinking I could use another pitch, and I thought it might well be the slider which I’d been hearing about—but who to ask? All the Yankee pitchers threw it! Anyhoo, that day was a Monday, and I played hooky from high school to go to the Yankees-Indians game. The Yankees won, 2-1, and it suddenly hit me that the winning pitcher, Yankee ace lefty Ed Lopat, was the one I would need to ask about that pitch. I did ask him, though with some trepidation because I had no idea what to expect—even then there were players who were absolute jerks and who wouldn’t give you the right time if your watch stopped. Well, I just said to him, “Excuse me, Mr. Lopat—could I ask you something?” And with four quiet words he had me in the palm of his hand. He said, in a calm voice that immediately relaxed me, “Go ahead—I’m listening.” When I said I just wanted to ask him something about the slider, he drew me aside, away from the mob surrounding the clubhouse, and showed me how to throw that pitch.
And that started it—a wonderful pitching relationship. He was my pitching coach for over three years, and he saw where I was coming from and took me in hand and helped me become a better pitcher. As long as I live I will never forget Steady Eddie and what he did for me. He knew I didn’t have a fast ball to speak of, so he shared a lot of snake jazz with me and showed me how to use it, and my sidearm delivery, to my best advantage. 8)
Oh my god that is such an awesome story. He took you down and showed you the pitch right after the game? What an incredible way to get lessons from the pro’s eh? I think if a pitcher utilizes his/her strengths like you did, they will be nothing but successful. It worked for you and I think if I follow my strengths it will work the same for me. Thanks for sharing your story, I really enjoyed it.
What was so odd about that experience was that it was so totally unexpected. I for one am firmly convinced that some form of ESP was involved—I don’t know whether it was a very strong sixth sense or what, but Steady Eddie just knew what it was I wanted to know. And we had some long and productive discussions about the mental and psychological aspects of the bump, and I got just as much out of them as out of the actual pitching instruction. I felt as if another door had been opened, inviting me to step inside and experience more than just a terrific slider. And so once again I say to him, wherever he may be—thank you.