Columnists

Baseball Memories

At a family reunion, I went outside to play catch with a cousin.

“I’d rate your baseball skills below average,” he said. “Does that surprise you?”

That didn’t shock me one bit. I score below average in most sports, with the exception of “spitting for distance.”

Coaches generally took one glace at me, then decided I was not a leader. My natural facial expression is “confused.” And when I concentrate, I look positively disoriented.

In school, I attempted all the standard games. But I was too skinny for football, and in basketball my vertical leap was only three inches. Could baseball be my specialty?

Our neighbor coached a kids’ team, and invited me to join. I practiced fielding flies and grounders, and could soon catch close to 50%. My technique was to buy the largest glove, then hope that the ball accidentally got trapped there, or somewhere in my shirt.

I had zero skills as a hitter, but the coach had a plan. “When you get to the batter’s box, crouch down like a serious hitter. But never, ever take the bat off your shoulder.”

In one year, I was called out on strikes 20 times, but got walked 38 times. Once on first base, I could generally navigate the other bases without wandering into the outfield or tripping over the shortstop.

That was a happy year. I got on base, scored a lot, bragged constantly about it, and thereby earned the nickname “Walkie Talkie.”

Today, over 40 years later, I still boast about the time I won the league’s title for most bases on balls. And when friends ask how I earned so many walks, I modestly say, “Pitchers respected me.”

– Rix Quinn is a former magazine editor who appear here each week. Quinn is a native of Fort Worth, Texas and appears in about 140 newspapers across the nation. Got a story idea for Rix? E-mail it to rix@rixquinn.com