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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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Baseball memory

Posted 01-28-2010 at 10:54 PM by TommyJohn

One of the things I wanted to be when I was younger was a baseball player. I realize I am no different than any kid at that age, but I had an unusual way of going about working on my ambition-by fantasizing about what a great major leaguer I was going to be someday. I was always undersized, so I dreamed of one day being a hustling, peppery second baseman like Nellie Fox, the King of Hustling Pepper. The thing is, I never did anything about it. Oh, I played softball in grammar school-was the first player to make the team (as a hustling, peppery second baseman) and was switched to pitcher. I won the team MVP award after pitching our team to 3rd place. (The games took place all in one day.) But other than that, nothing.

Then one day, in my sophomore year in high school, it suddenly occurred to me-I thought "You know what? If I want to be a hustling, peppery secondbaseman, I should start working on my game, like, 10 years ago." (I didn't go out for the team before that because I was too shy to ask the coach about tryouts-I thought he'd laugh at me. I was a weird kid.)

That summer, I took a crash course in fundamentals. I worked hard, swinging the bat, hitting the ball, just trying hard as hell. I had no one to work with but my father and his 20 mph fastball. I developed into a good hitter with that-I hit a line shot that hit him in the leg and shot a good 20 feet in the air. Another pitch I clocked a good 200 some-odd feet.

The tryout was a different story. I never saw the pitche coming at me from the machine, and my arm was a wet noodle compared to the other guys trying out. I did try-I hustled and peppered my heart out. I sprayed so much pepper around that the other guys must've been sneezing their brains out. But...it was too little, too late. All the King's Hustle and All the King's Pepper wasn't going to make me into any kind of baseball player. I didn't make it. I gave up on the fantasy. MLB was just going to have to get along without me. So I walked away, and I haven't swung a bat in anger since.

Well, that wasn't the end. The coach pulled me aside and made me an offer-to be Team Manager and Statistician. I took the offer and attended one practice game between our team and St. Laurence. I just observed for this game. It was an uncomfortable situation. There I was, a little, undersized actor nerd with all these big jocks. I didn't fit in. I felt that they all were saying "what's that ****** doing here?" I quit after that one practice and never looked back. In retrospect, I suppose the coach was trying to help-he saw that I wanted to be a part of the team, and baseball. He was probably trying to help me acquire skills that could be used later in life. I didn't see it that way at the time. I saw myself as a square peg unable to fit in.
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