Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Beginning Part 2


I just had my morning coffee and am ready for some more of the "beginning".....

Let's start with...."Buddy" was not always an 'ace' a matter of fact, he had to work his way up to the starting rotation of any team except for his local township team. Since Buddy is a left hander, he could only play one or two positions....first base, outfield (really bad at it.)  or pitch. It was Coach Tom who placed him on the mound when he was ten. When he wasn't pitching, he played first base. Was he good? In comparison to the kids on the township team, he was above average...not the best...not the worst. He had one thing that the other kids did not have....heart. He wanted it more than anyone else on the team. So he worked and worked and worked.....

When Buddy was 12, he started pitching and batting lessons with a local legend, Coach Phil. Coach Phil was the coach of the baseball team at the high school and then college levels. He had been drafted by the Yankees as a pitcher but never played major league. He had an abundance of knowledge and was great with kids. Buddy went to see coach Phil every Sunday morning after mass. He worked with Coach D and Coach Phil for an hour. They tinkered with his mechanics and swing. They also played with his head. They loved to joke with him although Buddy did not always get the joke. Usually Buddy's dad would take him to Coach Phil and they would banter back and forth. Coach Phil knew a lot about baseball but could not remember names. To this day, he calls me "mom" since he has no idea what my name is.

With coaching and dedication, Buddy progressively improved over the years. He first made township all star  and travel teams but he was quite fearful that he would not make his elementary school team. Here is a kid who is fearless on the mound, yet cringed when he thought that he might be cut from St. A's in the tender year of 5th grade.

To his delight, he made the team and was promptly placed on the bench. The kids in 6th grade started games and he filled in at various points. He did not pitch much but did have the opportunity to play first base on occasion. This year he played in school and township and he began to focus on throwing. He discovered that he loved to pitch.

The next questions you may have was his pitching? Was he an ace? The answers are complicated. His pitching was fine for a 5th grader. He was again not the best and not the worst. He was above average although not by much. Was he an ace? Absolutely not. He was "lit" up on a number of occasions and had multiple melt downs. Some melt downs are more famous than others. I am going to use one blog entry to share the infamous mound meltdowns some time soon. So stayed tune....

As 5th grade ended and 6th grade began, he was ready to be the 'big man' on the team. His goal was to be a starting pitcher and play first base. This is sort of what happened. Yes, he started first base. No, he was not the starting pitcher. He was in the rotation, but not the number one. He was more of the 2 or 3rd starter. Actually, to his dismay, the catcher started as pitcher on a number of occasions. The ride home from these games were often "salty" as he would mutter and express his frustration that he was not the starter on a more regular basis. He often had trouble expressing his thoughts in a non emotional way which worked to his detriment. But he was 11 years old...a kid....he had more growing to do....

As I reflect back on these formative years, I can see how these situations molded him into the competitor that he is today. If everything had been easy...if he had been the starter of each game...if he was the fair haired boy....I seriously doubt if he would be playing D-1 today. These set backs and frustrations were the impetus of his competitive spirit and drove him to excel. As I previously mentioned, the 30 to 45 minute drives home after losses or giving up run after run...walk after walk...hit a batter...wild pitches....being yanked out of a game...and so on....did not seem like blessings then...but upon reflection.....they were the best thing that could have happened.

Got to go...Tink needs a ride to work....more later

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