Baseball has always been important to me. The most important and consistent thing in my life. In some ways, as unhealthy as it may seem, it has been the crutch I lean on in times of difficulty in life. Baseball was my escape when things got difficult or confusing. It was my oasis to run to and be free from all of life’s stresses and issues. In one at-bat, that all changed.
I will forever remember my last at-bat as a collegiate baseball player. We were playing against Concordia University, our rivals. It was in the bottom of the 9th inning with one out. I knew this was probably going to be my last at-bat of my lifetime. It was a 4 pitch at-bat. I took the count to an early 2-0 count. Then fouled one right back to the screen. The next pitch was in my wheelhouse, and I crushed it. I mean this sucker was pissed on. I hit this ball on a line! Unfortunately, it was hit right at the center-fielder.
I remember turning around from rounding 1st base and jogging back to the dugout. I set my helmet in the dugout and sat down. Everyone who is a baseball fan has seen the famous movie “A League of Their Own,” and has heard the quote from Tom Hanks, “There is no crying, there is no crying in baseball!” Even though this is a truth, I sat down and just broke. I started crying. Knowing this was my last game as a player was a feeling that hit the sorest part of my heart.
Seeing as how it has been two years since I strapped on the cleats and took my glove out to shortstop or the hill, one would think that the pain goes away…NOPE. I miss the game every single day. I know everyone says that, but I honestly mean it.
I see kids younger than me now playing in the BIGS and playing the game I love, and I’m home on the couch watching them play. Being out of the game is something that you have to adjust to. Your expectations change. You learn to push your passion into other things.
One thing is for certain, you never stop being a fan of the game. You never stop marveling at a 500 ft. homerun, or a diving play in the hole. You still respect the game and the discipline it takes to get better and improve your game.
It’s a funny thing that happens when you leave the game. You start to see things you’d never seen as a player. The distance you now have from the game allows you to see the hole in your swing, or the one or two things you could have done to increase your fielding percentage. I understand the game so much better now that I no longer play it. I look at it objectively now and am much more observant of what is going on in the game.
This doesn’t take away the passion for the game though. There is still a fire in my belly for the game. I still get fired up when a shortstop makes an error and I still marvel at a bare-hand play by a 3rd baseman! This game will forever be an oasis for me. I just get to enjoy the oasis differently. There is always that part of me that wants to be able to jump back into the game, but reality is, I’m not able to play anymore. But if you ask anyone who’s played the game…just cause I don’t play baseball anymore doesn’t mean I’m not a ball player. I will always be a ball player…always.
Don’t forget to read Trevor’s previous post Why I Love The Game.