For over a hundred years, the sport of baseball has been recognized as an American pastime. For generations, it has been a staple in many people’s lives. It’s a game that is cherished for its simplistic beauty and enjoyed for its simple rules.
But there is another hidden side to this sport that few know about. Those who have known never spoke of it, and those who tried to find out where only met with failure. After attempting to discover more myself I soon found that no one would talk about it…no one except my grandfather…my old man…the ball player…my father…
I grew up watching my dad play ball his entire life. He was drafted by Cubs shortly after high school and moved us into a new area. That was when we first had some trouble moving in. Some of the locals weren’t too friendly and tried to get rid of us, but couldn’t stand up to my dad and what he could do on the field.
If it wasn’t for his skills with the ball I don’t know how we would have gotten away from there, but my father is…was…a damn good player. He was one of the few who played hard and smart. Those were things that struck me as strange at such an early age since even then baseball wasn’t known for having either trait in its players. My dad seemed to break all the rules though and he carried us through years where other teams were using steroids or other things to improve their play.
That’s what made it so weird when my dad started losing games. He was one of the best in the league, but soon he got worse and worse until he couldn’t hold his own anymore against other players in different cities. I remember watching him in shock as he started loosing game after game until finally, after being beaten in a large tournament, my father retired from baseball completely…even though everyone knew he still had more to give.
He blamed no one for the way things ended up turning out except himself saying that even if he hadn’t taken anything or cheated, there are always bigger fish in this world who will always take ones place. That’s why you have to keep moving up or you end up alone with nothing.
That’s when I decided to try my hand at baseball. After all, wasn’t it the only thing that could make my dad happy? It was something he loved doing, and it gave him his income for years after he retired. That had to be the kind of passion I needed in order to succeed…in order to make sure I never ended up like my father…
I remember the first time I took the field as a rookie trying so hard to do everything right and perfect even though everyone knew I hadn’t played baseball for very long. The manager would give me pointers every time we practiced, but they didn’t seem to stick in my head no matter how much he tried teaching me.
I figured since no one else was really good here I should stand out somehow. My father always told me to find something unique about myself and to use it as an advantage…something that made you different from the rest of the pack, even if that meant using something dangerous or even deadly. He explained to me how he caught onto baseball through his dangerous throws, but I didn’t know what kind of secret weapon I could pull off until one day when we were practicing batting in the dug out.