Remembering Games Past

It is an unwritten rule that every kid learning a sport must suffer an injury while learning that sport at the hand of a relative. Whether it is a black eye at the hand of the dad that is convinced that his knuckle ball is better than Tom Candiotti's or a line drive gone astray.

Our poor cat, Cotton lost a life when he discovered that my sister likes to chase baseballs out of the zone.

My cousin Kiel got a black eye when we were playing catch.

I am blessed with two hearts.

The first is the one that the Good Lord loaned to me for the duration of my stay on this earth. It is dependent on every breath that I breathe.

The other has red seams and is tattooed on my chest, courtesy of my grandpa.

It takes my breath away.

I was all of eight years old.

My family had gathered to celebrate Easter, and in order to work off the food-induced coma we divided uncles, grandpas and cousins into teams and inaugurated the baseball season with the first, and only (to my coherent knowledge) Family Baseball Classic.

Grandpa was playing shortstop and I was playing third base. We were the 1989 version of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson.

Please keep in mind that it was a rite of passage for any of grandpa's grandchildren, during their pre-double-digit-age, to have a working knowledge of the game of baseball, and maintain that knowledge with frequent games of catch, pepper, and years of film study.

We were quizzed at random and at times the tests were interactive.

For instance, when Cassie, Sarah and I were 3, 5, and 4 respectively, we were tested by hitting the first baseballs off the fence of the new baseball fields at Lake Helen.

When I was 6, I learned the correct pitching motion in my mom and dad's living room.

Now, at the ripe old age of eight, I was given the opportunity to test my baseball knowledge and show what I had learned to the great Baseball Master that was, and is, my grandpa.

Yoda has nothing on this guy.

The Family Baseball Classic was the perfect opportunity for me to showcase my years of tutelage. It was the sixth inning and the score was tied.

It had been a quiet five innings at the hot corner, but I was ready for whatever came my direction -- or so I thought. There was a runner on second base and one out when Uncle Jay hit a worm burner-deep in the hole.

Knowing that grandpa would be wanting to get the lead runner, I ran to third base to get ready for the play. Pee Wee charged the grounder, and threw the ball as he turned, seemingly all in one motion.

I was so dazzled by the magnificence of the moment that I forgot that I was the other end of the play.

The penalty for my lapse in judgment was the hardest thrown baseball in the history of man plummeting into my eight-year-old frame like a wrecking ball through a steel building.

It was the only time in my life that I can say that I saw stars in broad daylight.

The moment took my breath away.

Grandpa was really worried that he had hurt me badly, and later said that he had forgotten that I was on the other end of his "toss."

I was worried that I had let him down. Jackie Robinson would have been disappointed.

Upon further investigation of my injury by my mother and grandmother, I found the seams of the baseball adorned on my chest in the shape of a heart.

I showed my badge of honor to my grandpa, and he told me that now I was a real ball player.

He told me that anytime that I doubt myself to look in my heart (or was that to look at my heart? hmmm...).

Everyone likes to be felt proud of, and I do. I can feel it in my heart. Everyday. Courtesy of my grandpa.

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