Yes, you read the title of this blog post correctly. When I was a youngster playing ball in Little League, I had somewhat traumatic experience when the pitcher threw the ball and it hit me square in the the belly! Not only did the ball hit me hard, but it knocked the wind completely out of me. I had never experienced either before.
I can still remember that game vividly to this day. We were playing in the ball field just east of the high school. The opposing team’s mascot was the “Pirates” and the pitcher’s name was “Bo”, like Bo Jackson!
Bo was a big fifth grader! I was just a scrawny fourth grader. So when that ball, which in my mind’s eye was hurtling toward me at warp speed, struck me, I knew I was in a bad situation.
After crying a lot of tears, the umpire asked if I wanted to take my base or have a teammate do that for me. I opted for the latter. My friend Trevor took the base and I sat out, vowing to never go up to bat again.
Well, I didn’t go up to bat again that game. But, the next game I did, and I was terrified. However, in order to give me a little more confidence to step up to the plate, I put on a winter coat so that just in case the ball hit me, I would be protected from a bad impact again.
I did this multiple times through the season until finally I mustered the courage to go without (probably because my coach said I couldn’t OR because the summer heat was making it a little ridiculous to wear a coat at a game . . . or some combination of both).
One things for sure, though, I learned that traumatic experiences really do have a deep psychological impact that can persist for a long time. To this very day, I still find it hard to muster the courage to bat a ball like my peers. It takes a real extra amount of effort. And, no, I don’t wear a coat when I take the plate any more.