It all started when I was about 6 years old in a very poor neighborhood. All the children made our gloves and balls of paper wrapped with string and adhesive ribbons. The remaining part was Playing Catch. We were happy to feel that our diversity of handmade gloves and balls worked perfectly for our games. But we found that we were learning a lot to throw and catch and we wanted to play it almost every day. As we gained experience, we wanted to demonstrate the strength and accuracy of our arms and began to throw at longer distances with heavier balls.
Chasing rainbow throws was a challenge for us that made us feel very athletic too and we enjoyed catching many repetitions. Over time most of us learned to play baseball and participated in organized tournaments. Good hands coordination, arm strength and throw accuracy gave me the skills to play the Shortstop position, which I did until my retirement as an active player, and I know that those skills were born thanks to Playing Catch. Being so excited about baseball, I decided to open a baseball academy to develop professional career prospects, which has been in operation for 35 years, and so far I have signed 87 players to the MLB system. At the Academy, every day I continue to Play Catch with some of my prospects in the same way of those beautiful childhood days of which more than 60 years have passed, but childhood-Play-Catch still lingers in my mind-body with great support to my health.
I encouraged the parents of my players to feel free to come and spend some time playing catch, some are beginners, but they found a good feeling from Playing Catch and now they always come routinely to participate in our first Academy warm-up sessions. (They love to feel themselves like active players). Playing Catch is a fun and engaging activity that you don't know when to finish throwing. As an academy, Catch goes to another level, but anyway, all our players have to start training with a good warm-up Playing Catch. Once again, all players greatly benefit from the arm strength, throwing mechanics, and accuracy that Playing Catch has provided them from a young age. Outfielders have to keep Playing Catch with very long tosses. The Infields have a program-repertoire of 147 techniques for playing shortstop, most of which are fundamental techniques for routine plays, and they have to catch hundreds of ground balls every day. Once the fundamentals have been covered, they tirelessly put in extra work with tons of exotic and fantastic plays around the second base for double plays. But everything comes from Playing Catch passion.
For the first time in my life, I recently had some pain in my throwing arm from doing hard housework and that prompted me to teach my left arm to Play Catch so that my right arm would get some rest. Now both arms are in good shape and I play catch with both throwing arms, I'm pretty bionic! Once again, it was an opportunity to give my players a show of resilience, this time in the passionate spirit of Playing Catch. I would like to encourage all baseball lovers to get involved Playing Catch and don't miss out on the opportunity to feel the wonder of feeling baseball also under their skin.
On my side, I am more than eager to visit great Gloves Maker NoKona in Texas to personally buy my new infield glove and play catch with someone somewhere and make some friends there. Once the pandemic subsides and international flights open, I will. Now I could assure that all this story is going to be repeated but in another high level in benefit of the new baseball generation.
Norberto Rivas Head Coach of NR Speeders Baseball Academy, Caracas, Venezuela. Instagram: nr_mision107mph