One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 8 – The Weeks Between)

It was a great joy to get out on the mound and pitch again.  

Since my first outing on April 7, I have been reliving much of that game over and over in my mind.  I have also been surprised by the amount of people who have asked about the game.  It’s been fun to tell the story to so many others.  (To re-cap: It had been going surprisingly well through three innings before it all fell apart in the fourth.) 

I did show in that game that I could still throw strikes, that I could throw a lot of pitches, and that I could still get guys out.  

But now that it’s over, all of that isn’t enough.  

There was a lot of good in that first outing that I can (and will) grow from.  But, now that the spark has been lit, my goal is to do even better, to be even stronger, and, because this is what I always do, to raise the bar on what I can and do achieve.

At the start of this experiment and experience, the idea of just pitching again was something to get excited about.  I don’t know how many 50 year-old guys there are pitching in leagues like this, but I imagine it isn’t a whole lot.  I would also imagine that the list of 50 year-old guys who hadn’t played baseball in over three decades and who are pitching is smaller still.  With all of that in mind, just coming back, just getting out on the mound, just getting anyone out, was a big accomplishment.

At least for me.

But now it’s not enough.  Not nearly.  No way.

Now that I know I can pitch and not break down physically…  

Now that I know I can consistently throw the ball 60 feet, 6 inches…  

Now that I know I can throw strikes…

I’m ready to actually pitch well enough to win.  

Just pitching isn’t enough for me.  Not now.  That was the first goal.  Now I’ll raise the bar.

I want to win.  I want to pitch my team to victory.  

I need to be more than just an old guy who throws the ball over the plate.  I need to be a good enough pitcher to actually be a winner.

In order to get to that next level, I know that I have to get stronger and pitch (much) better.  As such, I have been working to those ends.

Anyone who knows me knows that when I determine to do something, I give that task everything I have.  I’m now giving that energy and focus to becoming a good pitcher.  

For the better part of the last thirty years, I have been working out (for all intents and purposes) every single day.  I run most days and on my off days from running, I lift weights.  One wouldn’t necessarily know any of that from looking at me, but I have done this religiously for decades.  I’m in pretty good shape for a middle-aged guy.  And, as a marathon runner, endurance isn’t a question.  I have the energy and stamina to pitch a million innings.  (I will just have to get batters out to have that opportunity.)

But, even with this, one thing I need to build up is my arm strength, not as a guy who can’t do bench presses or curls, but as a pitcher.  To meet that end, following my first start, I embarked on a somewhat rigorous pitching routine that seems to be going very well.  

I have been throwing at least 100 pitches in my backyard every other day.  I’m taking this seriously, throwing hard for each of the 100(+) pitches after I stretch out my arm.  I am working on my wind-up, thoroughly practicing pitching from the stretch and pushing my body so that I am throwing to spots and working on what I think is a change-up and what I hope is a curve ball (I have been experimenting with various grips).  I don’t take it easy on myself during this drill.  I give it my all.  I’m really concentrating on my form, on driving to the “plate” as I stride, and on pushing my pitching arm as hard as I can.

And I have been fortunate.  Thus far the weather has cooperated with me.  We’ve had some chilly days, but no rain.  Of course, if it does rain on a throwing day, I plan to go out there anyway.  The only way to build arm strength is to throw, so I’ll throw.  Rain or not.  I’m committed to this.

Right now, I have nothing to judge my progress against (the pitchback in my backyard isn’t telling me how hard I throw), but I believe I am throwing faster and better than I did in my start on April 7.  I’ll get together soon with a few of my friends to throw, but it vacation week for many and it’s not easy to get people together in the evenings after a long day of work.  But, Ethan, my youngest son, will be home on Easter Saturday (April 20) and I am looking forward to having another catch with him.  I’m eager to get his honest opinion on my progress from those first days when we threw together and all of this was just a bit of a lark.

And sometimes things just work out.  I didn’t originally plan it this way, but my upcoming throwing days all line-up perfectly with my next start on April 28.  

The only negative I have had physically is that fact that my Achilles is still not 100%.  My doctor recommended that I not play softball last weekend to give the tendon a few more weeks to rest.  I also haven’t been running (which kills me).  The alternative is that I’ve taken long walks and I have been spending a lot of time on my indoor exercise bike.  

And that’s where I am, at least right now.

I’m working hard, I’m exercising daily, and I’m throwing as hard and as best as I can.

Now that I have a new “career” as a pitcher, I don’t want it to end.  I want to continue to improve.  I want to get stronger.  I want to get better and I want to win a few games, but I’ll start with just one.

April 28 is coming.  

I’ll be back on the mound soon.

***

Previous installments of this series can be found here:

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part One)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Two)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Three)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Four)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Five)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Six)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Seven – The First Start)

The entire story can also be found at www.startspreadingthenews.blog

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One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 7 – The First Start)

Numbers?

Who cares about numbers?

Why do we have to reduce baseball to numbers? The numbers tell a story, but they don’t tell the whole story. Not nearly. Not at all.

I could give you the numbers, my stats, for the game I pitched, my first game pitched in thirty-four years, but they wouldn’t tell the whole story.

In fact, the numbers will obstruct; they will take away from all of it.

Trust me.

They will.

***

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 7 – The First Start)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 6)

My new baseball career begins today. It’s Opening Day!

We’re playing in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

I am excited, hopeful, and nervous.

“Just throw strikes.” “Just throw strikes.” This is what I’ll tell myself.

I hope I pitch well enough to get a second shot at this in a few weeks. I don’t think a no-hitter is in my future. I just hope my pitching performance doesn’t result in a no-outer.

I’m sure my arm will hold out, I just hope my Achilles does as well.

Wright's Field

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 5)

I woke up today, April 6, feeling pretty terrible. Awfully terrible. I still feel terrible.

But yesterday I felt even worse – even if the actually feelings were different kinds of terrible.

In the end, terrible is terrible no matter how or where it feels.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 5)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 4)

This is the story of my attempt, at fifty years old, and after not playing any organized baseball since I was sixteen, to have a comeback, of sorts, and return to the game in a men’s 35+ baseball league – as a pitcher.

This is the fourth installment of the series. The previous installments are listed here:

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part One)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Two)

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part Three)

***

Yesterday, April 3, brought with it a great deal of optimism and hope.

After work, in the early evening, I met my friend Michael Saffer to have catch. At the start of my career, almost thirty years ago, Michael was a student in my class. I had been his school teacher, now I’d be his student.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 4)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 3)

The following is the tale of my attempt to play competitive baseball for the first time in over thirty years. Since there is no way that I can hit (I could never hit a fastball), I offered to try out for this team in a 35+ league as a pitcher.

This is the third installment of the series.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 3)”

One Last Shot…A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 2)

This is a continuation of the story of my attempt to once again play baseball…

(Click here for Part 1 of this story.)

Buoyed by the fact that I had thrown, at least well enough with my son, I let my baseball dreams slowly grow in my mind. Here I was, fifty years old, a fifty year old man, the age long past when most people hang-up their spikes and their gloves, and I was thinking about getting mine back out, and on, and playing baseball once again.

I couldn’t wait to see what I could do.

Continue reading “One Last Shot…A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 2)”

One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 1)

I am fifty years old. I’ll turn 51 this summer. I’m no longer young. I’m not as flexible, strong, or physically able as I used to be. All of this comes with age. Of course. I’m not in the best shape of my life, but I’m not in bad shape. Last November, I ran the New York City Marathon. I was slow (4:47:47), but because I was coming off a torn Achilles and was under-trained, I was pleased. In the first Rocky movie, Rocky said, “All I wanna do is go the distance.” I went the distance. It was my 21st lifetime marathon. Not bad.

I also still play in two pretty competitive men’s softball leagues. One league is a 30+ league where I’m becoming one of the older players. I still play shortstop and handle myself well enough. The other league is a 50+ league where I play more of a utility role. That team won the league’s championship last year.

I love to play ball.

Continue reading “One Last Shot… A Real Life Baseball Story (Part 1)”

Author Visit – March 18, 2019

I am looking forward to another great author event on March 18, 2019 at the Oakland, New Jersey Public Library.

I appreciate all of the support, kindness, and encouragement from so many.  

I hope to inspire many people tomorrow to help them realize that, like me, they truly can achieve their dreams.