Swing the Bat

I love baseball. I always have. I can enjoy any game, no matter who is playing. Even if it takes my team 6.5 hours and 18 innings to finally get the win (Giants vs. Nationals, 2014). Even if it’s the local high school where I don’t actually know any kids. To everyone that thinks baseball is a slow boring sport: you are wrong.

When kids pick up a bat for the first time, they have no judgment. They will swing at every pitch no matter how good it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s above their head, rolling in the dirt, behind them, or right down the middle. They will swing, and most likely miss. My kids were like this and I was too. I’ve never seen a kid that wasn’t. With a few years of Little League under my belt, I learned that you don’t have to swing at everything. But I had another problem: I didn’t want to swing and miss.

So I didn’t swing at all.

Every at-bat was either a walk or a called strikeout. Eventually, my dad grew tired of trying to convince me to swing at good pitches. We were in the car on Morada Lane on the way home after another swingless game. He had been trying to talk to me about it, but it was clear I wasn’t going for it.

“D@%^ it, Scotty! Swing the bat!”

It was the only time in my life that I had heard him swear.1 The long pause and the start-and-stop-and-start-and-stop-and-start clearly showed just how conflicted he was about saying this. It pained him to say this, but he finally decided that it was important enough of a lesson to punctuate it. I got my love of baseball from my dad. No one was making me play little league. I was there because I wanted to be. But I wasn’t participating.

I wasn’t actually playing the game that I loved.

It didn’t take long to realize that this lesson from my dad had little to do with baseball, and everything to do with life. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing, so you just try anything that comes your way. Sometimes you know enough to be too scared of failing to try anything. But if you ever want to succeed, eventually, you have to swing the bat.

I don’t know if my dad even remembers this happening, but it has stuck with me forever. Every time I find myself feeling paralyzed about a decision, I remember it. Sometimes I still strike out looking. Sometimes I swing and miss.

But sometimes… I make contact.

I’m speaking to myself here, but maybe I’m speaking to you too. Don’t swing at the terrible pitches. Don’t take the chances that are obviously going to fail. But if there is some decision you’re laboring over, maybe it’s time to take the chance and go for it.

As it turns out, I was actually pretty good at hitting the ball once I started swinging the bat.

  1.  There’s no telling how many times I made him swear under his breath.
Image courtesy of Keith JJ (Pixabay)

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