When I was a small child, I learned to be independent. I had friends, sure, but when it came to joining in with crowds of kids at the park, I didn’t do great. Often the other kids would throw things at me. I had to learn to duck, and stay alert. In order to survive, I had to watch all directions for constant threat. Stay alert.
At first they only threw soft things… the sort of thing little kids would find near their play areas. But by the time I got to age 12, things changed significantly. Kids were bigger, and had their own ideas of what was “fun”.
I can still remember the day a kid threw a rock-like object directly at me, as if trying to kill me from a distance. It nearly hit me. I jumped back just in time, or it would have hit me in the ribs. And that, for sure, would have hurt, and maybe caused permanent damage.
I was a bigger kid, but far from the biggest. The kid throwing the rocks was taller, with longer arms. He also perched himself about a foot higher up for advantage, so it seemed to me more like a giant throwing rocks down at me, or a canon shooting from a hill. Life had gotten dangerous for me.
Of course I’m talking about playing baseball. In the beginning, for small kids, playing ball is fun. Soft rubber “pinky” balls, plastic bats, and even impromptu dodge ball diversions. It’s a group activity. There were no winners, just one big triumphant winning team, and one gaggle of tired kids who didn’t win.
At age 12, “hardball” starts, and you face a new world of bigger kids, rock-hard balls, and independence. If you’ve never stood at the plate and watched rock-hard baseballs fly towards you at 40 mph while all of the other kids are completely focused on whether or not YOU are going to HIT each pitch, or MISS, and then FAIL by STRIKING OUT, then you missed out, believe me. You missed out.
And I missed the ball. Almost every time.
At the end of the season, I didn’t get a trophy. Almost no one did. After all, we couldn’t hit the ball.
How can you get a trophy, if you can’t hit the ball?