Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Baseball tryouts

I don't remember how old I was when I tried out for Little League Baseball. Either 7 or 9.

They were real try outs. This was beforethe day that everyone gets a medal, even before the day's of everyone gets to play. It was not only possible to not make it through the Little League selection process, it wasn't all that uncommon to fail in the first tryout.

They were really mean to us kids back in the '50's.

The tryout consisted of fielding 3 ground balls, catching 3 pop up fly balls, and taking 3 swings at bat. Based on that performance the coaches in attendance would hold some sort of draft and select their teams for the season. If you didn't get picked, then well you didn't get picked.

I practiced and prepared for that tryout. It was one of the few times I can remember that my Dad actually sat aside some time and put in the effort to help me. My dad's little brother (who was either 17 or 19 that year) gave me his baseball glove to use and Dad told me he'd buy me one of my own if I made a team.

I went to the tryout alone, riding my bike with my Uncles baseball glove hanging from the handle bars.

I fielded the three grounders and the three pop flys. I don't remember if I caught any of them or not, probably not.

Then it my turn at bat. I left the glove on a bench in the dugout and went to strike out. I do remember three swings and never connecting.

Then I went back to the dugout to wait for them to tell me to try again next year.. My Uncles glove was gone. Somebody had stolen it when I was at bat.

I don't think I was all that disappointed in not making a team. But losing that glove just embarresed me to no end. When next year came along I didn't try out again. Not becuase of the shame of not making the team, I could deal with that just fine. But because I couldn't go through a repeat of having my Uncle's glove stolen from me.

Phil (my Uncle) probably didn't really care about the glove at all. But I didn't know that. And to me having him entrust his glove to me and then me getting it stolen was just the ultimate failure on my part.

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