It's Groundhog Day and Phil DID NOT see his shadow. Therefore, winter should be over in 6 weeks. Let's share that bit of trivia with Old Man Winter. He seems very annoyed these days.
My goal for the first few blog postings is to share Buddy's history as a ball player. His skills did not develop overnight. He was not the best player on most of his teams and he had to work harder than most kids to stay in the line up. With that said, he was blessed with athleticism, height and left hand dominance. All of these factors plus training and perseverance led to his making a D-1 school.
With that said, 8th grade is almost over. The regional play off game was scheduled for a steamy Sunday at a local high school. Buddy was scheduled to pitch against the top team in the region. He knew that his skill and lots of luck could lead them to a victory. It was all on his shoulders as he prepared mentally for the game. To offset the jitters, we talked about the previous game and how fun it was. We also delved into the years at his elementary school and how life would change dramatically in high school. Yet, despite the small talk, he was nervous about the start.
Sunday's game was scheduled for the afternoon. Usually 10-15 people attended the games. This time there were 90-100 sitting on the hill. There were no bleachers, so families had to bring blankets or chairs.
The game began and Buddy pitched with a tenacity that the opposing team did not expect. There were no earned runs while he was in the game. Sadly, as baseball goes, the strike zone "shrank" on Buddy and he no longer hit the corners of the plate. He began to walk his opponents and walked in a run. After 65 pitches, the opposing coach called a time out to take Buddy out of the game. It seems that there is a maximum pitch count at that age and he could no longer stay in the game.
After Buddy was removed from the mound, the opposing team scored a few more runs on the next pitcher and they ultimately defeated St A's. St. A's had 3 hits, Buddy hit two of them. This was no consolation as the regional playoffs were over and Buddy was now finished with his grade school career.
Reflecting upon the grade school years, I see a number of very positive events that helped him. First, he had to work to make each team. He did not assume that he would automatically be on the roster. Second, he sat on the bench seething on a number of occasions. Again, this was a good thing as he vowed take advantage of any opportunity that he got to play. Last, he discovered that he would rather pitch than play first base since he could basically control the game. All of these factors were instrumental in building his confidence and commitment to the sport.