I don't think I've held a baseball bat since high school. And even then I was probably just holding it for my friend Geo while he tied his shoes. OK, so sports were never really big in my family. And I'm part of the reason - sports seemed brainless, and completely lacking in words I could bury myself in. Plus, you can't really fail at words. Fastballs, on the other hand, send a pretty clear message when you don't connect with them.
So I went to the batting cages in rural Virginia. There was a tent of wire and nets behind a golf course. The chilly 40-degree air wasn't stopping the golfers, and even the chilly aluminum bat couldn't damper my spirits. I slid in the token and the pitching machine, which seemed to be running on a particularly noisy lawn mower engine, squealed to life.
I felt the slow softball lane was a good place to start. Helmet on, bat on shoulder, I watched two pitches sail by me. Then I swung. CRACK. It careened off to the left. Then another. And another. Out of 20 pitches, I probably hit 15. I was stunned. In my mind's eye I was still a lanky, uncoordinated teen who only entered sporting events for a lark, or for laughs. It was tough to update that version with the current reality.
Now, swinging that bat in the cold, I loved the fact there was nothing to read or to remember. There was no quiz. There was no one to impress. Then was no real start or finish. There was no pressure. So I smacked softballs (and later baseballs) until my fingers were blue and my hands were ringing from the impact. I can't wait for more.