I started playing kid-pitch baseball in ’84. I was on the Angels for the second time. The opposing pitchers had terrible control, but I swung at everything and frequently missed. I had photogray lenses that turned dark in the Los Angeles sunlight. I tripped a lot.
I never walked. If I was playing shortstop at the beginning of an inning, I ran to my position. If I struck out, I ran to the dugout. At the end of the game, I ran to the snacks.
One bright Saturday, we traveled from Granada Hills to Mason Park for a game. I came up to the plate with two outs. I was mad at the kids on the other team because one had said, “Hey Shortstop, nice shades,” when I first took the field. I gave him a mean glare. He couldn’t see my eyes, the lenses were so dark.
Bases loaded, I had two strikes. I watched the coach go through the signs and had no idea what he wanted me to do. The pitcher wound up and let a fastball go. At 10 years old, we only threw fastballs. And they weren’t really fast. I thought about not swinging, told myself, “He’s going to call it a strike.” I could’ve used my mouth agape look back at the umpire if he did, but the pitch was down the middle.
I stepped, squeezed my eyes and the bat and swung. I felt the bat hit the ball before I heard the ‘tink’ sound. And I ran. I circled the bases, thinking about the high-fives for the grand slam and the kid who wished he didn’t say, “nice shades.”
We won that game 36-4. The Mason Park teams were terrible. Almost 30 years later, I remember exactly what that ball looked like as the centerfielder turned around and ran. And I remember running the bases.
Zach began to run. He never really walked. Life is far too exciting to waste seconds on end.