Monday, July 20, 2009

You Never Forget Your First Beanball

Even at 6 years old, Clark is a lot tougher than his old man. He proved that over the weekend.

Clark got hit in the eye with a baseball during warm-ups for his Little League All-Star game, resulting in a first-class shiner. A lesser man – his dad, for instance – might have packed it in right there. Clark not only played in the game, but got a couple hits.

I speak from experience on this. My Little League career ended at about Clark’s age when a manchild nicknamed Froggie beaned me in the head with a fastball. I continued to play after that, but spent most of my time in the batter box trembling with fear. Because of Froggie, I was much more worried about getting hit than getting a hit.

After getting hit, Clark wasn’t too eager to mix it up again, either. Something about the thud of a hardball against soft flesh will do that to you. But Clark did play. In fact, in true Hollywood fashion, he darned near had the game-winning hit. Unfortunately, the lead runner was sent back to third. We lost in extra innings. The storybook finish will have to wait for another day.

I’d like to think it might still happen, however. Perhaps on some cool October evening many years from now with the Reds leading 3-2 and just one out from clinching the World Series, Clark will be called in from the bullpen to save the day. With 45,000 people watching anxiously from the stands and millions more on national television, Clark will wind up, muster all his strength and promptly drill Froggie’s offspring right in the head.

That kid has one coming.

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