For It’s One, Two, Three Strikes…You’re In.

Two Bros at Batting Cage - 01BBrother X Winding  Up - 01B Earl Tossing First Pitch - 01A John Throwing First Pitch - 01A

I never in my life was a power hitter, so I’ve only been able to dream of hitting a baseball over the fence. With that dream in mind, though, I bought two tickets to take batting practice with the local Minor League baseball team, The Lancaster Barnstormers. I gave the second ticket to Brother X, so I would have the added power our sibling rivalry always stirs up. Plus, I’ve been practicing since January. The more I practiced, though, the more I realized that it’s never gonna happen. So I had to revise my Bucket List for my aging body. Now, I’d be satisfied if I was able to hit a baseball so hard that it might bounce and roll all the way to the wall.

Last Saturday was the big day. Brother X was in town, and my Long Beach friends John and Margaret were also here. In addition to the Batting Practice tickets, I also had three tickets to throw out the first pitch at the ballgame that night, so John, Brother X, and I were all scheduled to pitch later that night. That’s one of the advantages of a small town. I doubt you would be able to slip somebody a few bucks and take batting practice with the Yankees, or throw out the first pitch at Citifield.

We arrived at the stadium at 2:30 and joined the others who had tickets for batting practice. They were all young children accompanied by their parents. We were told that the parents would be allowed to sit in the dugout if they signed a waiver. I turned to John and Margaret, “Mom, Dad…would you like to sit in the dugout?”

So, they signed the waiver, and we all got on the field. Only Brother X and I had tickets to bat, but John was allowed to shag fly balls in the outfield. I have to admit that I missed as many as I hit, and I didn’t drive the ones I did hit too far. I did get one good foul ball on the third base side that did roll to the wall, though. So, Mission Accomplished. Brother X, sandbagger that he is, was driving the ball all over the field, and was even calling his shots. “Here’s one for John,” he would say and then hit the ball in John’s direction. John was happily loping around catching everything we hit. The three of us were in our glory.

A few hours, and a few beers later, we were back at the park to throw out the first pitch. Brother X threw a strike. Last year, when I threw out the first pitch, I bounced one in the dirt. So, I aimed for a spot about 10 feet over the catcher’s head and heaved the ball with all my might. My throw was a little wide of the strike zone, but it reached the catcher on a fly. So, I was happy. John then threw a duplicate of the pitch I had thrown. None of us bounced it in the dirt. Go team go.

I didn’t knock any balls over the wall in batting practice, and I didn’t throw a strike on my first pitch, but it still turned out to be an absolutely perfect day, and The Barnstormers topped it off with a 7-4 come-from-behind victory. So, I think I can check off all the baseball items on my bucket list, and next year I’ll have to come up with a different way to entertain my big city friends when they come to my small town. I was thinking that next year I might hire a few Amish guys and we could have buggy races around my block. Wouldn’t that be cool? You can’t do that in New York, except maybe in Central Park.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

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