For the first 18 years of my life, I lived in a small town of around 4,000 people in South Arkansas. Growing up, I would always talk about how ready I was to leave and never come back. Now that I’m older, however, I’ve started to see the charm in small town life. One of the main things I regret not being able to pass along to my kids is my experience with sports as a child.
In my small town, if you wanted to play a sport then you were on the team. If you had even the slightest bit of athleticism and/or hand-eye coordination, then you’d likely be able to start. To do this in Little Rock, I would have to spend $15,000 a year sending the kiddos to the nice private school so they could compete with all the other uncoordinated (white) idiots.
I, due to the lack of warm bodies available, was one of two starting pitchers for my 10 year old Little League team. Needless to say, I was not the most talented player on the field. What I lacked in talent, though, I made up for with a pure, fear inspiring, lack of accuracy.
I remember walking up to the field to warm up and overhearing my coach and the umpire discussing a bet on how many people I would hit. The bet was that I would hit at least two kids during the game. The umpire thought my coach was pulling a fast one and demanded a provision that I would be pulled after the first half of the game. Needless to say, that inning cap did not help. I drilled three motherfuckers in three innings of work and landed my coach a cool $20 bill.
For the sake of brevity, I'm going to completely gloss over the fact that I have access to my full game by game stats from the ages of 9 to 15. Nerd alert, dad.
I hit 21 people in just shy of 30 innings of work that season, so I was hitting someone almost every inning I pitched. To be fair, if I ever fell behind 3-0, I would just drill the kid because I knew I couldn’t throw enough strikes in a row to sit them down. This strategy was overwhelmingly successful, though, because I would have the other team scared and backed off the plate by the time we brought in our actual good pitcher to close out the game. Strategery. Undefeated strategery.
Now my oldest child has started T-ball and she’s already better than me at sports. Unfortunately for her, she’s growing up in a large population center and likely won’t be given the opportunity to hit less talented kids in the face with baseballs for fun. Score one for small town living. I kind of miss it.