Barehanded Baseball

With each keystroke I feel the throb in my hand. Not a deep bruise but enough to remind me that I played catch with my son for about an hour this afternoon. He’ll be nine years old in December, and I couldn’t ask for a better kid.

I’ve been waiting for him to take an interest in baseball. Mostly for selfish reasons because I have so many fond memories of playing catch with my father. After a long day at work, I’d beg him to let me pitch to him in our front yard. He showed me the proper mechanics of pitching, how to hide the ball and how to throw from the stretch with runners on base.


We continued to play catch well into my teens. He’d crouch down in a catcher’s stance and set a target for me to hit and would call “strike” if I was close. He spent hours showing me how to grip and release a curveball. My small hands made it difficult to throw it for a strike, but it would loop just enough to keep right-handed hitters off the plate.

Baseball is different than football or basketball, two sports where a person’s size can give them a distinct advantage. Size matters little in baseball. Baseball also requires the player to possess more than one skill. Each player must know how to hit, field and throw the baseball, and that takes years of practice. I often hear that the best athletes play basketball, and I like to remind them what happened when Danny Ainge and Michael Jordan tried to play Major League Baseball.

Last week my son told me that he played baseball with a friend, and asked if I’d play catch with him. He didn’t have a glove, but we hit the store at the right time of the year because all their baseball gear was on clearance. Even my youngest son got his own glove.

After digging around the garage, I located my old Wilson A-2000 I’ve had since I was sixteen. We tossed the ball around the yard until the laces gave out on the back webbing of my glove. I sent it off to be repaired which will take a few weeks.

My son knows I don’t own a spare glove. But after school today, he asked if I’d play catch with him. I considered telling him we’d have to wait till my glove was repaired.

But I thought of all those afternoons my father spent with me tossing the ball back and forth. Of course, he made sure I had the best mitt money could buy. I think he even played barehanded until I could throw the ball hard enough that it would hurt to catch.

So I went outside and tossed the ball with my son on an unusually warm October day in Seattle. I showed him which leg to lift and plant when throwing. We walked through the mechanics of throwing together without a hitch. Occasionally I have to remind myself that he’s left-handed which is an advantage when it comes to hitting. With only a few days worth of practice, he’s getting the hang of it all.

And I don’t mind the sore hand tonight because it’s a reminder of not only the time I spent with my son today but all those afternoons I spent with my father years ago.

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