Saturday, March 11, 2006

For the Love of the Game

We just watched "For The Love Of The Game." My songwriter friend Marty recommended the movie. I'm not a big Kevin Cosner fan, but I said O.K. because like him, I love baseball.
This turned out to be one of my all time favorite movies. I think this is a perfect script. The cinematography, the music, the story.....everything was perfection.
As a kid I played the sport. I also played softball, football, a little tennis and I bowled, but baseball was my favorite. I was a pretty good catcher and not bad with a bat. I had friends that I grew up with that turned out to be phenomenal ball players and the time we spent on the ball field still ranks in my mind as special.
I recall the last time that I played organized baseball. I don't recall the year, but it was pony league and we were playing Gardendale. Gardendale was a much bigger town and we thought they would beat us senseless, but that's not how the game turned out.
Ricky Joe Conners was our leadoff hitter and he smacked the first pitched of the game over the centerfield wall. He trotted around the bases and smiled as he came into the dugout....."It’s batting practice." We jumped on those guys quick and never let up.
It was the last game of the season and the coach told me up front that I would play 5 innings and the other catcher would finish up the game.
We were leading 6 to 2 in the top of the 5th and I came up to bat. The pitcher was pissed because we had beaten him up badly. He reached somewhere deep inside and threw a fast ball down the center of the plate. It looked like it had a string on it when it left his hand...POW strike one. He was on a roll and threw a curve that looked like it was going to hit me in the face but instead dropped in for call strike two. I backed up and wiped the sweat off my face and looked to the dugout. Ricky Joe smiled and said "it's batting practice." I looked back at that pitcher and smiled. When he released the ball, it was like it was in slow the pitches that the coaches had been throwing all year long in practice. I swung evenly and connected with a fastball that was low and outside and launched that baseball right over the leftfield wall. I heard a Gardendale fan say "oh no, not again." We spanked those big ol' boys like a bad child.
I don't recall why I didn't play organized ball after that, but I went out with a bang.
You don't get to do that enough.
If you love baseball and you've never seen "For The Love Of The Game", do yourself a favor and rent it. I'd bet anything you'll love it.

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