Like so many of the things in life that you do and give little thought, I completely ignored what playing catch meant to me until I was introduced to “Play Catch.” I believe that I began playing organized baseball in approximately 1951 at the age of eight. About the only thing I remember from this eventful season with Bell County Insurance is getting to the game; jumping out of the car and playing catch. We must have been a sight in uniforms that didn’t fit and caps with no crowns but we were on the field and people were watching us.
I can remember playing catch with neighborhood kids. Often, one would be the pitcher and the other would be the catcher/umpire and we switched positions when we struck out the side. More than one fight started over one’s inability to properly call balls and strikes.
Playing catch was really something special when you got to play with someone’s older brother or an adult. And if you ever played with a member of the high school team you were truly at a different level.
I only remember playing catch with my dad once. He was trying to teach me to pitch a baseball underhanded. I pitched one game using this technique and beat one of the elite teams in the league that year. After that game, I was never able to control throwing that way.
As an adult, I coached youth league baseball and my youngest son for many years. I’m not sure that either one of us realized what we were doing or what it would mean to us in later years. It took “Play Catch” to make me think about it all. Very few of us coached a kid who is now in the major leagues but all of us had the opportunity to develop good citizens and fond memories for those kids in later life. If I had to do it over again, I would have a “Play Catch” session before every game involving parents, siblings, friends, and anyone my players wanted to invite. Just think of the people I could have gotten more deeply involved and the relationships I could have strengthened through “Play Catch.”