Toeing the Rubber

DATE: 4/19/2014
This is the journal of my life as a pitcher.

Name: Drake (no, I don’t sing and my best friend isn’t named Josh)
Age: 14

My goal: To pitch my way to a college scholarship - and beyond.

My main pitches: 4 seam, knuckle curve, circle change.

Currently pitching for my high school JV team.

Height: 5’ 10"
Weight: 118 lbs.
My doctor predicted I’ll be 6’ 3" to 6’ 6" when I’m done growing. Let’s see how accurate his prediction is in a few years. I’m hoping to be at least 6’ 1" this time next year.

I’ve never had a gun on me so I have no idea how fast I throw. I just throw.

I just started a weight training program and “power shake” diet. I hope to weigh at least 150 this time next year. I currently have about 0 body fat. I’d like to keep it that way and just add muscle.

Feel free to follow my progress. I plan on posting at least once a week.

My first JV game:

Since it’s raining again, our game today (Tues. 4/22/14) got rained out. Here’s a video from my last game that I played in. I don’t know if you can tell, but it was raining then too - mud on my shoes and I was trying to keep the ball dry. The game was called early. It’s tough to keep focused on pitching when you’re worried about the ball slipping out of your hand or your foot sliding out from under you.

I went to my mother’s for Easter and didn’t get to do my normal workout routine, but I did some work around her small farm - hauling firewood and building a bonfire. I can see where the term “farmer strong” comes from. I was wore out.

We don’t have another game till next week unless we reschedule some of the games we’ve missed.
I’ve started practicing with my summer league team too, though I can’t pitch with them until I’m finished with the JV team.

On the advice of a couple of guys on here, I’ve decided to wait till after the season is over to work on my mechanics. I’m pretty consistent right now, and don’t want to change too much where I could lose control and cost our team.

Hopefully we’ll have a game where we aren’t competing with the weather.

Hey Drake,

Glad you are waiting to change your mechs. Keep up that farm work. It worked out real well for Feller. :smiley:

I think you have one of the best journal names I have seen.

Best of luck,


Thanks Ted.
Our game from yesterday is rescheduled for tomorrow (Thurs), and it isn’t even supposed to rain. (sarcasm)
I had bullpen practice in the gym yesterday and a teammate showed me his 2 seam fastball, so I worked on it for a while. It has a nice tail into right handed batters. All of my pitches were working pretty well. I hope I get to face some live hitting soon.

Getting tired of all the rain and practicing inside. Haven’t played a real game in a while. Game for today cancelled again. It’s not raining but the field looks like a mud pie from all the rain we’ve had.
Another game scheduled for tomorrow at a nearby high school. 0% chance of rain. Keeping my fingers crossed.

My community baseball league starts on Sunday. 24 teams in the league all play that day at the 3 field complex. It should be fun. No rain forecast!!!

Lots of rain here too. Starting to clear for the next week though. I hope you guys get to play. Good luck.


I just found out that the reason our game was cancelled last night wasn’t because of the rain, but because the town I live in closed the field to plant grass seed. It’s closed for two weeks!!! I said, who closes a baseball field during baseball season? My town does. They play soccer on this field at the end of summer. I guess it has to be nice and lush for them. SMH

Big game today against one of our rivals. We’re 4 - 2 for the season, one of our losses was to them. I don’t know if I’m going to pitch or not. The coach never says until it’s time to warm up. I’d like to know further in advance so I can get focused and have time to stretch my arm out good.

Our season ends next week - we have 3 games on the schedule. We’ll be lucky to have played 10 games of our 18 game season schedule. Frustrating.

My 23 game summer league season starts on Sunday. Hopefully, we’ll get to play most of them.

I was called by the soccer coach to see if I want to try out for goalie on the soccer team for next year. I haven’t played soccer or goalie since the 4th grade. Unfortunately, Fall Baseball is just kind of a weekend thing around here, so, I might try soccer and play Fall Ball too.

Sometimes I wish I lived in an area that was more into baseball. My dad has talked about moving down south - North Carolina. That would be nice.

Wouldn’t you know, I finally have a game where it isn’t raining and I get sick on my stomach on the bus ride and sit out the game. We got stomped 12 - 2 in 4 innings.

I have the local league game Sunday but can’t pitch until the JV season is over. I’ll get to play some short-stop anyway.

Well, I got to play some short stop yesterday and it felt good to get back on the infield. We got stomped 14 - 4 - our team is young. I’m the oldest at 14. I think we walked 10 of the 14 runs in. The others scored on pass balls. I wanted to pitch but I’m not allowed. We had 4 of our better players out - 2 with injuries and 2 on vacation. We just had enough to play. The assistant coach told me I was the shining star on the team. It was hard to watch and be a part of. We had too many mistakes to win.

0% chance of rain. That was the forecast yesterday for today. Today, my JV team played. I was sitting on the bench for 4 innings. The coach asked me to start warming up . . . I was closing. Then, as if by design, the clouds rolled in, thunder started rumbling, and lightning lit up the sky. The clouds let loose and the rain came pouring down. The temperature dropped to 42 degrees and it started hailing. Needless to say, the game was called.

Our Wednesday game was cancelled because we don’t have a field to play on - thanks to the grass planters. Our last game of the season is Friday. It’s not supposed to rain, but watch and see.

There’s a drought in California. Invite our JV team to come play there, we’ll bring the rain.

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted. My JV season ended on a down note. The morning of our last games of the season - a double header, I woke up with severe allergies. I discovered I was allergic to pollen. I never noticed it before this year. I was at one of my summer league games the night before (playing shortstop) and it was out in a rural area. I noticed parked cars covered with pollen at the game. I must have gotten it on me. It didn’t bother me during the game or that night, but the next morning, my eyes were swollen, itching, and teary. I took some medicine, but it didn’t help. My nose was a runny mess, and my eyes wouldn’t dry up. I didn’t go to school, so I couldn’t play in the double header. So, that’s how my JV season ended.

Last week I got to pitch in my first summer league game. Our team is pretty bad. We have a lot of young players that just moved up from Little League. Our record is 0 - 5 and we’ve been run ruled in every game but one.
Since JVs ended, I’m now able to pitch on a regular basis. Well, my first experience wasn’t a good one. I couldn’t buy a strike. I gave up 3 hits and had 5 walks and we got run ruled 15 - 0 after 5 innings. You wonder how I could allow 3 hits and 5 walks and give up 15 runs? Errors. We had so many dropped balls and booted grounders. The short stop couldn’t throw the ball hard enough to get the ball to first even after making a good play on the ball. We look like the “Bad News Bears”. The team we played was one of the better teams in the league, according to their record.
After the game, the umpire came over to me and said, “You pitched good. I just couldn’t call a lot of those pitches on the corners because your catcher kept moving his glove after catching the ball.” He actually said I was hitting the corners. I looked at him in disbelief. I told my dad and my dad couldn’t believe it either. He went over to the coach to tell him what I had just told him and the coach said, “I know, the umpire just told me the same thing”. Wow. You go out and bust your tail to throw strikes, to work the corners and you get a umpire that doesn’t know the strike zone. Oh, yeah. I found out after the game that during the game, the other coach kept telling his players not to swing at anything above their belt line. And they didn’t. And they were balls too. His strike zone was about mid-thigh to the knees for me. For their team, it was the letters to the ankles. Lol. I can see why this team does so well if they get to play half of their games at home and have their own umpire. My team plays in the centrally located complex where 75% of the other teams play their home games. A few teams that are out in the country, get to play at home fields and use their own umps. Well, that was my first outing of the summer league season. Not a good start.
Last night we played a team that was about our equal. We still lost, but the game was close. I got to catch the whole game. That was the first time I’ve caught since fall ball, and I’ve never caught an entire game before. I only had one pass ball. I threw the first guy out that tried stealing second, so nobody tried after that.
I have a game this Thursday night, and hopefully, I’ll get to pitch again. It’s at another rural team’s home field so we’ll see how that goes. I pitched against this team last year and had a no hitter until the 5th inning when I gave up a lead off walk. The coach took me out. We were up 11 - 0. He brought in his assistant’s son and he proceeded to give up 11 runs and they tied the game. We ended up winning 13 - 11 in extra innings. That coach isn’t coaching us anymore. We’ve lost a lot of good players from last years team, so it could be interesting.
I’ll check back after Thursday.

I had a pretty good outing Saturday, May 31, 2014. Struck out 10, 4 hits, 2 earned runs. But we lost 12 - 0. I was taken out in the top of the 7th down 7 - 0. We have no defense - I had 3 dropped strike three pass balls that ended up with a runner on 1st. Frustrating.
We have no hitting either. My batting average is around 400, but we can put two hits together.

Today I caught. We played a team that was about our equal. We won our first game 8 - 0. I did pretty well, I think. No pass balls - no wild pitches. My dad’s friend who was a former minor league pitcher thinks I do a great job catching. He said I was smooth and relaxed. He thinks I should concentrate on catching.

I can’t overpower batters like I could in Little League, so I’m trying to mix in a variety of pitches. My curve ball is really working well. but I rarely get it called for strikes. That makes it tough unless I get the batter to swing.
The coach asked me if I was ready to pitch again tomorrow. I said I was but my dad and his friend said to forget it. They said pitching 100+ pitches one day, catching the next, and then pitching the next was crazy. So, I guess I won’t be pitching till later in the week.

I think your dad & his friend are right on this one. If you threw 100 plus pitches, caught the next day pitching on the third day would be nuts. Does your league have pitch/inning limits & mandatory rest? I’d think twice about catching the day after 100 plus pitches, need to take care of your arm. Best of luck!

They have a limit of 7 innings per week. Since my game was on Saturday, that was the end of one week. The next week starts on Sunday, so I could pitch, according to the rule. My dad called the coach and told him he wasn’t going to let me pitch. The coach said he had reconsidered before the call and wanted me to pitch later in the week. He now says he wants me to play short.

My dad said he’s going to keep track of my pitches from now on and limit me to 85 per game, with at least 3 days rest in between.

Your dads a wise man, seems reasonable. Bad thing about some leagues is the “reset” each week. Rest time (IMO) should be based on the last day you threw rather than starting over every week. Still think you should be careful pitching after catching and vice versa. That’s a lot of load on your arm.

I finally got a start against a decent team and pitched 4 innings of shut out ball. I struck out 7 and walked 2. I didn’t have any more innings left for the week, so I had to leave the game after 4, pitching a no hitter. My reliever came in and pitched well too. He pitched 3 innings of no hit ball so we combined for a no hitter and won 1 - 0. I led off the game with a single and advanced on a ground out. I then stole 3rd when they tried to pick me off at second. I scored on a base hit. That was the only run of the game. Their pitcher pitched a 4 hitter.
I’ve got a new delivery with a full wind-up. My dad forgot to bring the camera, so I have no video of the shut-out. The full wind-up gives me more time to get down the mound and I was consistently around the strike zone. I’ll post a video when I pitch again.

[quote=“Drake”]I finally got a start against a decent team and pitched 4 innings of shut out ball. I struck out 7 and walked 2. I didn’t have any more innings left for the week, so I had to leave the game after 4, pitching a no hitter. My reliever came in and pitched well too. He pitched 3 innings of no hit ball so we combined for a no hitter and won 1 - 0. I led off the game with a single and advanced on a ground out. I then stole 3rd when they tried to pick me off at second. I scored on a base hit. That was the only run of the game. Their pitcher pitched a 4 hitter.
I’ve got a new delivery with a full wind-up. My dad forgot to bring the camera, so I have no video of the shut-out. The full wind-up gives me more time to get down the mound and I was consistently around the strike zone. I’ll post a video when I pitch again.[/quote]
Nice job. How is the curve?

The curve is alive and well. Thanks for asking. Lol.
I pitched again last night: 5 innings: 2 walks, 2 hits, and 13 Ks. The curve ball was killing them. I struck out their #4 hitter all 3 times. I gave him a steady diet of “yellow hammers”. Lol. They scored 3 unearned runs - 6 infield errors. I went 2 - 4 batting. Hit the ball solid all four times, scored twice. Line drive to short and a fly out to center. We lost 4 -3.
Here’s my latest pitching video:

This was the first pitch of the game. I think I rushed a little, but it was a strike. I calmed down after this and got a better rhythm going.

Newspaper summary of combined no-hitter.

1st United of Frostburg 1 - KMK/Outdoor Power 0
1st United of Frostburg’s Drake Miller and Blair Merrill combined for a no hit shut-out of KMK/Outdoor Power, Saturday morning at Memorial Field - Hot Stove Complex. Miller struck out 7 in 4 innings while Merrill finished up striking out 5 in 3 innings.
Cam Bohrer went the distance for KMK/OP allowing just 4 hits. Drake Miller led off the game with a single to left. He advanced to 2nd on a ground out and stole 3rd. Miller then scored on a base knock by Blair Merrill. Merrill went 2 for 3 with 2 singles. Logan Fiorita had the only other base hit for First United.
1st United plays Tuesday vs. Cumberland Lions. KMK/Outdoor Power plays Monday vs Cresaptown Eagles Riverside.

I’m playing in our leagues East/West All-Star Tournament on Sat. I’ll probably pitch an inning or two. Should be fun.

Well, the local league has drawn to a close. We finished the season with a 3 - 20 (or something like that) record. I pitched the last 3 innings of our final game when we were already down 6 - 1. I struck out 6 in 3 innings, their lead off hitter twice - who is one of the better hitters in the league. His dad, who is also their teams coach, came over to me after the game and congratulated me on my pitching. He said my curve ball was “filthy”. Lol. He asked me why I didn’t start the game. I said because our regular catcher was on vacation and nobody else can catch me. The two catchers that did catch the last 3 innings had about 15 passed balls between them. All of the 3rd strikes of the 6 strikeouts went to the backstop. The catchers managed to throw all but one of them out at first. For the season, I think I had about 20 or so passed ball strike 3’s. About 10 of them reached first. It was a frustrating season not winning, but I was able to work on my pitching. I really feel good about the knuckle curve. The umpire at the last game even stopped me on the way to the dugout in one inning and asked me what that pitch was that I was throwing (my knuckle curve). He even asked me to show him how I held it, so I did. He said it had amazing break to it. I said thanks.
I’m supposed to play fall ball in a local league in a few weeks. I’ll keep working on my mechanics in the mean time.
I’ve been doing some weight lifting in addition to my regular exercising - push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, etc., trying to add weight. The last time I was at the doctor’s, I was at 122. I didn’t gain any height. I hope to have another growth spurt soon. I want to break the 6’ mark before next season starts.