In this article, I intend to describe a life-altering experience that happened to me at a very impressionable age. It is an enjoyable memory for me, and an important milestone, because it is the first time in my life I remember accomplishing something difficult by simply believing I could do it.
Jordan Silver was the most feared pitcher in my entire Baseball League. At the early age of 12, Jordan had already become a local legend — undoubtedly because of his flawless pitching career.
Flawless is no exaggeration. Jordan pitched a shutout every single game, because nobody ever hit a single pitch of his — he was simply phenomenal.
My team, the Cubs, was therefore very discouraged on the day we faced the Pirates, the team Jordan pitched for. The Pirates were undefeated, thanks to Jordan’s ability to strike out every player that batted against him.
Half of every inning could barely be called a sport. The Pirates would take the field, Jordan would strike out three batters in a row, and then the Cubs would take the field for the Pirates’ turn at bat.
Consequently, the best my team could do to keep the Pirates at bay was end each inning as soon as possible, and hope we could maintain a tie game, zero to zero, for all nine innings.
What was it about Jordan that made him so invincible? Why couldn’t a single player in the league could hit any of his pitches? Was he truly that good, or had his pitching record set an intimidating precedent that left his opponents paralyzed in fear?
I took a moment to examine Jordan. He was a tall, muscular, dark-haired boy who was one year ahead of me in school. He didn’t seem invincible by any means, just accomplished. His pitches were very consistent. Fast, straight down the center, strike 1, 2, and 3.
Suddenly, I understood what brought Jordan to achieve such a flawless pitching record.
When you are at bat, you study the pitch you’re faced with to determine whether or not it’s worth swinging at. If it’s not over the plate, you don’t swing and hope the umpire calls a “ball,” agreeing with you that the ball was not within range to be hit.
The difference with Jordan was, he never pitched anything that couldn’t be hit — but by the time you made the decision to swing, the ball was crossing the plate and the umpire was readying his call: “STRIIIIKE!”
The mistake everybody was making was that they were watching every pitch carefully, and letting three strikes whisk by them before they could notice what the hell happened. As I watched Jordan strike out the players ahead of me in the batting roster, I counted the number of seconds it took the ball to travel from Jordan’s fingertips and cross Home Plate.
“One.. What the.. One? Just one second? Are you kidding me!?”
No wonder nobody’s hit off of him this season. He’s got a rifle of an arm, and he’s gunning those pitches faster than any other pitcher in the league could ever dream to!
I understood that there was no other way: Don’t examine the pitches, just have faith it’ll be down the center, and swing.
“Next up for the Cubs, Number 30, Shaun Boyd!”
I was so distracted I didn’t realize I was on deck. I quickly scrambled out of the dugout, searched among the helmets along the ground for one that fit, and pulled an aluminum bat off the fence. I gave the bat a quick practice swing, and approached Home Plate.
After crossing the plate and finding my footing, I positioned the tip of the bat above the plate where I imagine the ball will be. I draw the bat high above my shoulder and remind myself: “One second.”
Jordan nods, winds his pitch, and releases his fast ball. I count to one, and swing as fast as I can.
“STRIIIIIKE!” yells the umpire.
“Two more, two more,” says the catcher, as he tosses the ball back to Jordan.
I step back up to the plate, position my bat where I felt the ball tip the edge of it, and then draw it back above my shoulder.
Once again, Jordan nods, winds his pitch, and releases another fast ball. I count to one, and swing as fast as I can.
“STRIIIIIKE! TWOOOO!” yells the umpire.
The catcher makes another remark, but I’m deaf to it because I’m focusing instead on what one of my coaches was saying. I could’ve sworn I heard him tell the head coach something like “See the swings that rookie’s taking?”
Jordan, now ready to end my turn at bat, winds his final pitch.
This time, I begin my swing without counting.
The ball collides with my bat, sounds a metallic “thwack!”, and flies directly back at Jordan. I hurl the bat from my stinging hands and take off running for first base.
Jordan, never expecting his flawless pitching career to be shattered so abruptly, had dropped to the mound to avoid getting his head taken off. Other members of the Pirates team were caught off guard as well, having become so used to Jordan doing all the work.
When I was safely on first base, I caught my breath and began to take in what just happened. The entire crowd was standing and cheering. My team was screaming cries of excitement from the dugout. The first baseman turned to me and said, “Holy crap.”
I hit one of Jordan Silver’s pitches — a feat that was considered impossible.
And at that moment, I understood that it doesn’t take much to make the seemingly impossible possible — all it takes is faith in yourself. When you sow seeds of uncertainty, you’ve given up before the challenge has even begun. Sow the right seeds by having confidence in your abilities, and you will surpass everyone’s expectations — including your own.
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