It was my first year of High School. I’d made the Junior Varsity Football team, the JV Basketball team, and the JV Baseball team. Back then not everyone who tried out made the team, unlike today. But that’s another story.
This story takes place on the baseball field. I remember it being cloudy, and kinda cool. I was one of two first-basemen and we were having batting practice. Batting practice consisted of one guy placing a ball into the pitching machine and the coach “coaching” each player as they took turns batting. The machine was on a tripod and had two big rubber wheels that would spin crazy fast. You put the ball in a shoot and the wheels would shoot it out at about 75 miles per hour. Ffffffoooop. Right across the plate. Every time. Coach Ace (not his real name) asked me to man the machine. Ffffffoooop. Smack! Hit! The players in the field would then field the balls that were hit. Easy. Ffffffoooop. Swing and a miss. Ffffffoooop.
The initial buzz of maning the machine quickly turned to boredom. One of the pitchers was next to me catching the balls the fielders were throwing back in. Ffffffoooop. The pitcher was talking to me as I was loading the next ball Ffffffoooop. Crack. Hit. Ffffffoooop. I turned for just a second to watch a great hit and automatically loaded the next ball…Ffffffoooop. I turned and stared in horror…. Coach Ace was standing at the plate giving the batter instructions. Time slowed down as I watched the 75 miles per hour fast ball hit the Coach right in the balls! I was horrified. You could have heard a pin drop on that field. When the coach was able to stand back up he Angrily yelled at me to get my ass to the locker room. I ran all the way.
Coach Ace was kind of a dick. Not a very nice guy. The Varsity guys who had him when they were JV’s hated him. As I sat scared of the unknown in that locker room, I heard the door burst open and the sound of cleats clacking on the floor. It was the Varsity catcher, he yelled out “Who pegged Ace?” I had to smile. It had been an accident, but no one believed me. I was a hero. Everyone wanted to congratulate me.
Coach Ace had calmed down by the time practice was over, and his scolding was rather tame. I’d like to think I rode the bench that year because of my accident, but I’ll never know.