January 29, 2013
Out of Left Field
Teaching Myself to Hit
[Disclaimer: This article may give the impression that I’m passing myself off as an expert on hitting. If I’m the hitting expert, it’s only by default as there is nobody else in this article. If this were called Teaching Myself And A Rabid Hyena To Hit then the hyena, despite its medical issues, would be the expert.]
I love baseball. Maybe that’s obvious, since I write about it all the time (Seriously, dude, like, get another topic!), but I don’t just love it as a writing subject. I love playing it, too. I’ve been fortunate enough to play baseball almost straight through my life, from Little League to high school, a smidge in college, and up to last year in an adult league here in Portland, Oregon. There were breaks for the normal things in life, like marriage, having children, that cannibalism phase everyone seems to go through*, and work, but most of my life I’ve been on a baseball team. During most of that time I’ve never been able to hit.
*Cannibalism: it’s just not worth it, kids. The more you know…
My senior season in high school my team had a hit-a-thon to raise money for some local charity. The idea was that people would pledge money by the foot for the longest ball you could hit in 20 swings. An 18-year-old high school senior with a coach lobbing the ball up there, I should have been able to hit it pretty far. Nope. I hit the ball 200 feet. That’s a pop up to the outfield. The outfielder is going to have to trot in to get it. That was my farthest by about 200 feet, too.
That was 100 words I like to call Matt Can’t Hit. All through high school I couldn’t hit. The number of hits I got in my four years could have been counted on my fingers had I been through several industrial accidents.
Flash forward a decade. There was a batting cage a few miles from my office. Instead of using my lunch hour for something traditional, like eating, I decided I would teach myself to hit.