Sunday, June 23, 2013

Things From my Childhood 2-- Learning Baseball

When I was young(er), my dad was more patient with me than I gave him credit for.  I was a baseball enthusiast, and he did his best to teach me about the game and improve my skills.  There were many sessions of catch, batting practice, etc.  There was even one season that he worked with me on my skills as a catcher.  The team's coach let me take the catcher's gear home and told my dad to throw lots of tennis balls at me.  The idea was to get me accustomed to digging bad pitches out of the dirt without the bruises that typically follow that experience.  I can't remember how much time he spent doing that, but it helped.

There were also a few sessions of batting practice at the spot in the above picture.  I think that is, and was when I was a kid, some sort of water treatment facility along El Sobrante Road.  The clear spot near the arrow used to be a very rustic baseball diamond.  My dad used to take me there on weekends and help me work on my batting.  He would pitch and I would attempt to hit his very toned down throws.  I think that's where I learned to bunt as well; I never asked my dad how he learned to do such things, but I just sort of took it for granted that dads know how to play baseball.

One weekend during our batting practice, a fish and game warden pulled up in his truck.  He was curious to see what we were up to, and asked if we had heard any gunfire.  In the back of his truck was a dead eagle.  It was the biggest bird that I had ever seen up close and he told us that it was a bald eagle.  I asked why its head was not white, and he informed us that it was an immature specimen.  It had been shot, and I still remembered being puzzled as to why anyone could possibly want to shoot an eagle.  My dad was smart enough to point out to me that there were a couple of chicken ranches nearby and one of the ranchers probably confused it with many of the red-tail hawks that frequent the area, and had mistakenly acted to protect his livestock.  I again assumed that dads just knew such things.

My dad is a pretty handy guy.  Thankfully, it runs in the family.  I'm often thankful that my dad forced me to do various things myself,  or made me help him when he performed various repairs or construction projects himself.  I'm also thankful for all of the baseball lessons.  Thanks, Dad.