Little League Monster

21 08 2008

This article by Joe DeMartino rang so true that I had to mention it.

It’s not something that you think about often, but facing my Little League Monster is an experience I will never forget.  The sheer terror that was in my heart has not completely left me, more than 13 years later and I don’t know that it will.

My monster was named Jeff Ford and in my mind, he was a freak of nature.  I couldn’t have been more than 5’1, 85lbs at the time, by far the smallest kid on my team and one of the smallest in the league.  So when it came around time to face Jeff Ford’s team, I would be hoping for the week prior that I might not have to face Jeff Ford, that maybe he’d get hurt or have to go out of town.  But that was clearly not in the cards.

On game day, our coach knew the reputation that Jeff had and he without a doubt could see the fear in his eyes.  He knew we were terrified, and tried his best to convince us that the “larger they are, the harder they fall” and that “the faster a ball is pitched, the faster it leaves the park.”  He even challenged us, telling us if any of us were scared, we should raise our hands before the game would start and he just wouldn’t put us in.  I still wish I had raised my hand that day.

As I would approach the batters box I was shaking, there was no need to try to control it.  When I stepped in the box, it was a whole other level of fear.  I think you could have heard my knees knocking for miles.  When he would wind up to throw, I would tighten every muscle in my body, close my eyes at the point of release and just swing.  Needless to say, I never even came close against Jeff Ford.

While I knew that the name Jeff Ford had not escaped me, I was most shocked by the vividness of my memories as I read this article.  I don’t know if these were memories that I had repressed or what, but thinking about them now is pretty amazing.