Stories in the local papers today heralded the fact the Detroit Tigers finally signed a left handed reliever since the team didn’t have one. I suppose it’s important to have pitchers from each handedness since it affects the matchup between pitcher and left and right handed hitters. I remember when I was an 8-year old pathetic Little Leaguer. I played the outfield, but wanted to try out to be a pitcher. I had all the attributes. I’m left-handed, and couldn’t hit. In three years in the Little League I got 2 hits, 4 foul balls, 3 walks and struck out a million times.
The manager, who was really one of other kid’s fathers who looked like he was living from nitro tablet to nitro tablet, decided give me a tryout. He not only liked that I was left-handed, he liked the fact that the location he chose for my to pitch to him was next to the Mr. Softee ice cream truck. He was also intrigues with my submarine delivery. Given the fact I was barely four-feet tall, submarine delivery meant most of my arm was underground.
He crouched in the catcher’s position and told me to “burn it in Eddie!” I reared back and fired a high, hard one, right past him and into the headlight of a parked car. Now a headlight is barely six-inches in diameter so I figured the skipper would be pretty impressed with my aim, but instead he shoved another nitro onto his tongued and sucked in slowly.
“OK, Eddie, put one right here!” he urged, pointed to his mitt. Wondering why he didn’t praise my “headlight pitch” I shook off the sign with ideas of my own. Sensing I had another unpleasant surprise awaiting him, he ordered his son, the pimply third baseman to get him a large chocolate milkshake from Mr. Softee.
Jutting my jaw with purpose, I wound up, fired the horsehide and planted that baby smack into the grille of a ’62 Pontiac Tempest.
“Shit,” the skipper said, “glad that wasn’t mine. What else you got, kid?”
“Oh, watch this! It’s my money pitch!” I replied.
Yeah, it was a money pitch alright. It knocked the milkshake out of the skipper’s hands, costing him 45 cents.
He actually never said another word. Devastated his lefty prospect turned out to be nothing but a southpaw sociopath, he just walked away, trying to suck what was left of the milkshake through a bent straw.
The first base coach ran up to me, told me never to handle a baseball again. But my parents paid for my full-season participation in Little League so they were compelled to play me the minimum two innings per game. I mostly played the outfield after that and actually caught a few flies, but to this day I just know if skip had let me pitch a few more I would have found my groove..and maybe taken out a fire hydrant.