Before the kickoff one of the fathers who was quiet wanted to partake in the “battle of the beast” proudly looked at his buddy’s and said, “None of your boys can handle what my kid can!”
Now, this dad had a son who was a good athlete. His boy played all of the popular sports such as football, baseball, wrestling and even basketball. The young strapping athlete received recognition for hitting the game winning shot, knocking the ball over the fence, pinning down his opponent in less than three seconds and catching the touchdown pass to put his team into the playoffs. Quickly, the focus on his son was starting to be minimalized as he quickly told the men “I’m not talking about Johnny!” “I’m talking about Grace.”
There was deafening silence as all of the Neanderthals looked at each other with more confusion on their face than they had during their 7th grade final exam taken almost 30 years ago. With the cockiness and sarcasm only a dear friend could muster the question was asked, “How so Fred?”
“You see, Grace has to wake up every day at 5:30 AM. She does her sprints, long distance and cardio workouts. After school we rush her to her hitting lessons and then pitching lessons. When she doesn’t have hitting and pitching lessons; she has 2-hour workouts just on the skills she was taught in those lessons. At practice, she is hit 1000 ground balls where she has to execute a perfect throw down the line. After her fielding, she puts on her helmet and takes another 1000 swings where we ask her to place the ball in a specific location otherwise it doesn’t count. As she takes the mound, she is asked to throw her different pitches with pinpoint accuracy maintaining the velocity and achieving the appropriate break of the ball. When the 4 hour practice comes to a conclusion; she and her teammates finish the workout with speed and agility drills.” The men say, “Well that’s just a hard workout, our boys do the same!” Fred responded, “OK, but now let’s talk about the games themselves.”
Now, Fred had their attention, but he wasn’t
“Softball is a faster game. The fact that a runner can't lead off first means there are no annoying throws down to first base to keep a runner close and stalling of time. There is always action in the field and there is even an international tie-breaker rule that can make a really close game suddenly very explosive.”
“Speaking of close, a softball field is much smaller than a baseball field which means you get to sit really close to the action and you'll be able to see, not only the ball on every play, but maybe even the sparkle in the eye of the fielder who is making the play. The backstop is only 25 feet behind home plate. When that potential game-tying run is scored? You'll really, actually know if the umpire made the right call and he can hear you when he didn't! With the bases so close together, there is never enough time to think about a play as one hesitation will cost you an out or even a run.”
“Pitchers don’t just throw fastballs. In fact, the best pitchers can change the speeds of their pitches between 10-15 miles per hour. A batter can gear up for a 55 mph rise-ball (it gets faster as they get older) and then the pitcher may break off a 36 mph change up making the hitter look, frankly, just foolish. And, you're sitting so close, you can see that and the look on both the pitcher's and the hitter's faces. Usually, everyone laughs except the batter.”
As Fred finished his lesson on how his little Grace played a much more demanding sport mentally and physically; he sipped his drink and smiled as the conversation quickly turned to great commercials on TV and less controversial topics such as who has the toughest kid because whether they admitted it or not; Grace was the winner in the room.
Happy Father’s Day to all of the proud Softball Dad’s from the Texas Travelers. Enjoy being the father of your world class athlete and have pity on your friends who were not blessed to have a girl who plays softball!
For more information on the Texas Travelers you can follow them on Facebook or their News Network Site or by calling Coach Kyle Bennett at 972.679.7702.