Pass It On is a new, bi-weekly peek inside the heart and mind of Francis Pass…
As a young baseball player, I wanted to be Mickey Mantle.
He was my hero.
Funny thing, I only recall watching him hit home runs. But Mick had his fair share of strikeouts, too.
Out of 8,102 at-bats, Mickey Mantle struck out 1,710 times.
My dad would remind me of that whenever I would get down on myself after striking out.
I was a natural right hander, but I always wanted to bat left-handed so I could be a switch hitter like Mickey. I always felt that, once I had my timing down, I had more power from the left side.
Unless, of course, the pitcher was really fast.
There were two pitchers that would get me every time. One was from Hurst/Bush and the other guy was from Gorham, down by the river.
Gosh those boys were fast. But they didn’t necessarily have the best control. Many a time my teammates and I would bail out of the batter’s box to avoid an out of control pitch. A few of us ended up getting plunked anyway. And lemme tell ya, it hurt.
To say I was terrified to bat against those two pitchers would be an understatement, and my dad knew it.
So, he took me to the ball diamond out there on Lick Creek road.
At first, he’d throw me some easy pitches to hit. Since we only brought five or six baseballs, I’d run out and collect all the balls so I could hit ‘em again.
After a few rounds of this, he put me back in the box and said, “Now you stay in there. I mean it. You stay put.”
Whoosh! He’d throw me a curve ball. I wasn’t ready for those.
Whoosh! Another one. Then another.
He said, “Now listen, I’m not gonna hit ya, but you’ve got to have the courage to stay in there. The ball may curve away from ya. Or, it might curve in to ya. But once you figure that out, you’ll find that these are some of the best pitches to hit.”
His encouragement, and him throwing curve after curve at me, gave me the courage to stay in the box.
My playing days are long over, but I still see curveballs every day.
Whoosh! One after another.
How about you? What curveball is life throwing your way?
I’ll tell you what my father told me. Just stay in there. Because the more curveballs you face, the easier it is to hit them out of the park.
Thanks for readin’…
P.S. – I finally hit a triple off that fella from Gorham. That was a big day for me. I think ol’ Mickey would’ve been proud.