My High School Tryout
The winter thaw was in full bloom. All I thought about from the fall of 1963 to the winter of 1964 was playing baseball. Weequahic High School's baseball season started in the middle of March. March 15, 1964 could not arrive fast enough. Even if tryouts started outside in the snow, I would have been there. But they started in the gym, because it was so cold outside.
I remember walking through the halls of school on that first day of tryouts in a baseball daze. I kept thinking about how I was going to do. Would I hit? After school was where the phase of the daze turned into hits and mitts.
"Okay start throwing the ball around." I heard Mr Ginsburg say, as he strolled out of his office. The coach had spoken. Time to get moving.
So I started playing catch. I was so excited to have a glove on and playing ball. The winter is always too long when you yearn to be playing baseball.
After tossing the pill around for a while it was time to hit. We had no pitching machine so we improvised. Now get this. The gym at Weequahic High had a regular sized basketball court. On both sides of the court there were two more basketball baskets. From each basket a rope was tied that hung to a height of my stomach. Attached to the end of the rope was a baseball. Yes the rope went through the middle of the ball and out the other side of the ball. It was my job to hit the baseball into the mat that was positioned up against the wall, under the basket. The ball hung about two feet from the mat.
I was nervous as I heard the coach tell us what to do. So simple a concept. Hit a ball into a mat. What if I messed up? Would I be cut in less than an hour of tryouts?
Batting was it for me. If I couldn't hit this somewhat stationary ball - I should rest my bat in the bat rack for good. Fat chance. I hit the ball so hard the sound it made hitting the mat had everyone in the gym looking at me. Boom. I can still hear the echoes in the gym.
My buddies patted me on the back. I was relieved. I passed my first test.
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