Saturday, April 12, 2014

“The Quintessential Experience” by Tom Hickey

Hi everyone,

Please indulge me for these moments of personal reflection.

I love the game of baseball with a passion I seldom match in other areas
of my life! That’s why this 59-year-old boy can be found in uniform on a Sunday playing the game that’s given him so much since his first organized game in 1950.

I play for love, and like true love, I ask nothing in return—except
for the ability to play and be contributory to my team and the game
itself. The joy is in playing—and the bonus—is the experiencing of the nuances of the game.

I must share my experience of April 22, 2001. No matter how long I play
this game—a new experience looms just ahead—to impress me that I
haven’t seen or felt everything.

In my 50 years of playing baseball I never hit a ball over a fence in a
game for a home run. I never experienced the exhaltation of trotting the
bases, rounding third, slapping the hand of the third base coach, and
looking up to see all my teammates waiting at home plate with giant
smiles (and, in this instance, looks of amazement that they had just
actually seen what they saw) on their faces. Sunday, it happened!

8th inning. Down 3 runs. Bases empty (if this were a movie, the bases
would have been loaded, and, my personal joy would have been
unrestrained because the homer would have won the game.)
3-1 count. just trying to get on base. I’ll take a walk, or, just make
good contact. Hit it hard. Find a hole. Get on so our better hitters can
make something happen.

The pitch. Letter-high fastball. Too good to take. Swing…....

I never experienced the sensation and joy of “getting all of it” and
getting under the pitch so that in that brief mega-second the
realization that the ball had “a chance” to go out was real.
Being a life-long “singles hitter” my only home run came at age 14 on a
field with no outfield fences. Batting right-handed, I hit the gap in
left-center and raced around the bases sliding home ahead of the tag (if
you’ve seen me run—maybe racing is an exaggeration.)

This time, batting left-handed, the sound of aluminum (I miss wood)
meeting baseball was “pure”. There was a “ringing sound” which means I
got it “all”.

I knew I had pulled the ball and 3 steps out of the batter’s box my eyes
went to the rightfielder. He started back slowly, then increased his
speed to the fence looking all the way like he had a bead on the ball.
I knew I hit it well to the right part of the field, but, would it
carry? He was at the temporary fencing not able to go farther. At that
moment my heart fluttered (and not for the usual reason a man my age
feels a heart fluttering sensation) as I saw him look up and the ball
sail about 10 feet over the fence.

Suddenly, the joy was replaced by concern. what would be my style of
trotting around the bases? Should I give a Kirk Gibson arm pump as i
approach second base? Should I raise my right arm to the sky?
No, I’d be traditional. Don’t want to show up the pitcher. After all,
how good could he feel allowing such a hit to someone my age. Nope, show
respect for the game and for the fact we still trailed by 2 runs. The
score was what was important. How can I celebrate when we are down to
our last two outs?

I believe baseball’s god smiled on this oldtimer. HE granted me an
opportunity before I go off into that corn field with Shoeless Joe and
Roy Hobbs and Crash Davis.

The fact that my sons stood at home plate, wearing the same uniform I
wore, with pride in their eyes, truely made me a blessed man.

- Tom Hickey

Posted by section925 on 04/12 at 09:21 PM
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