Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Ball in the Balls

All three of our boys played baseball in their childhood. They each had their own distinct skill set in the sport. Kevin, the youngest of the three, had potential to be a pretty good pitcher.

It took a couple of years for the right coach to get hold of him so that he could learn to put the ball where he wanted it. Meanwhile, being the dedicated but sports stupid father that I was, I tried to work with him. It didn't take me but about fifty catches to figure out that I couldn't hold up to his pitches for very long with a fielder’s mitt.

My mistake, when I bought a quality catcher’s mitt, was disregarding the need for additional equipment to protect my personal equipment. We had a six-foot-high board fence in our back yard to stop any wild pitches that I couldn't stop with the catcher’s mitt. Kevin had a bucket of baseballs. I was certain that we could get by.

It was going fairly well at first. A few high or wide pitches got past me but Kevin seemed to be calming down. Then he hopped a low one off of the grass. I missed that one with the mitt but I stopped it smartly with the family jewels.

Even a fledgling 10 year-old pitcher can put 60-70 MPH on a baseball so catching a ball in the balls is not funny. Somebody didn't explain that to Kevin. I assumed that he had probably experienced, at least, one of two inadvertent assaults to his own privates. Therefore, I foolishly assumed, that it went without saying.

I was sucking up the pain pretty well and without rolling on the ground and moaning like a wimp. Then I looked up and saw a big grin on Kevin’s face.  The last thing that any modern parents ever expect to do is outlive their children. However, the combination of the grin on my son’s face and the pain that he had just put into my gonads was pretty close to a deal breaker for him outliving me at that precise moment.

I don’t remember exactly what I said to him as I stood up and glared at him with an attack and destroy look in my eyes. I only remember that the grin instantly faded. It was replaced by enough fear and empathy that I quickly calmed down.

In hindsight, the cost of the catcher’s mitt was about $50. A helmet and mask with a throat guard was $70.  A chest protector was about $60. Shin guards were about $30. Protecting my gonads from a 70 MPH pitch so that I wouldn’t murder my son was priceless.

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