Wassup, everyone? For anyone that didn't catch last week's 'Pit Your Wits, we ran a pretty awesome Father's Day-themed contest which asked for baseball stories involving dads (and/or other parents). I was really hoping that it'd bring the hidden writers out of the woodwork, and, honestly, the results exceeded any and all expectations I had in advance. Even if you don't wish to participate this week (or have little interest in PYW as a whole), I'd really suggest you hit the jump to read the stories, which have been reproduced in their entireties. The top five scoring entries are also going to receive copies of The Arizona Diamondbacks: 2001 World Series Collector's Edition DVD Set (courtesy of A&E Home Entertainment), so props to everyone. Plus, I guess there's another contest. Or something. See you after the break.
No medals, really, this week, and I'll give the top three gold points for being awesome and I don't wanna discriminate between any of them (even if it would be based on community votes). I'll simply relay them in order of posting, so here we go!
First, by Bryan J. Boltik:
My first experiences in baseball
My father served in the US Air Force for 20 years. 3 of those years, our family was stationed in Brussels, Belgium where he worked at the NATO Headquarters. During this time, I was going to a department of defense school which was K-12 for the entire school. We had about a total of 300 students. I was young, only between 1st and 3rd grades. I had some awful teachers that didn’t respect the students, but this was when I first learned about baseball.
I was never able to watch games on television, but my father would set the VCR to record games at night and signed me up for little league baseball once I found my love for the game. We started off with the usual coach pitch and machine pitch games and my father would work with me almost every day to improve my swing. There was a point where I wasn’t allowed to play in my age division because I was too good for everyone else. I didn’t realize I was that good and was just out there having fun. The league decided to put me into a higher age group, about kids twice my age (I was 6 at the time so the leap isn’t that huge). Baseball is a popular sport in Belgium, and since there wasn’t really a Belgian baseball professional league, people would come to watch the little leaguers play, even if it wasn’t their kids just to see baseball. I was struggling with the change since now the kids were pitching to us and my hitting was suffering. But my father, who quickly became my hitting coach, never gave up. One day, he wanted me to try out pitching. I had never done it before, but I am up for trying anything for the first time. I tried and wasn’t very good at it (I had no concept of the strike-zone). My father would help me understand follow-throughs, pitching situations, strategies, mechanics, the lot. I was working my butt off and my father was working with me day in and day out to try to get me to have fun with pitching. The season came and went and I pitched as a simple reliever that just tried to play a game and, let me tell you, I would get rocked. I was pitching so badly that I wanted to give up playing the game. During the off-season, my father kept helping me at my hitting, my fielding, and my pitching, because he saw something in me that I thought would never be revealed.
During the off-season, I was traded (yes, we had trades in this league) from the Royals to the Diamondbacks (the reason why I’m a D’Backs fan no less). I kept working on the pitching and when the position try-outs came for our team, I tried my shot as a pitcher. The coach later came up to me, looking at a 7-year-old kid playing with 12 and 13 year olds and said, "Son, you are going to pitch our first game". I didn’t really understand what that would mean for me but quickly found out. In my first game, I had all of the pre-game jitters. I took my warm-up pitches and right before the first guy came up to bat, he came to the fence and yelled my name. Like a 7-year-old would, I went over to my father and he gave me a brand new glove (which I still own to this day) and told me that he was proud of how far I had come and knew I would do well. I went to the mound a pitched my heart-out for my father, who was far and away the loudest fan there and kept a scorecard of every game I pitched.
I compiled a 17-1 record (with my only loss to the Astros), 0.87 ERA, 130 Ks, and 10 walks. I never gave up a home run, I never hit a batter and pitched 5 two-hitters. Our team went to the playoffs where we would be playing for a legitimate national title against teams from all over the country. Our team went to the final series where we lost 2 games to 1 in a stadium with hundreds, if not thousands of spectators. And my father was the loudest of them all. I was devastated when we lost. But my father figured out a way to cheer me up and to be happy with where I got to. About a week later, we had a nation-wide awards ceremony where I was awarded Co-MVP of the nation (along side a guy who hit like 50 home runs and beat my team in the championship). I had never really won a thing in my life until that point, and haven’t really since. My father continuously worked with me, during all of the tough times, playing against players roughly twice my age, from the point to where I wanted to quit, to where I was so close to the pinnacle of what my league had to offer.
Upon moving back to the States, I never really played much baseball until high school, but have recently tried out for the baseball team at LSU after my incredibly long hiatus. My father was excited of my decision to try to walk-on to the college team and worked with me the summer before my try-out to get back into form. Upon getting to my college, I tried for the team and made it to the final round of cuts. The LSU coach, Coach Paul Mainieri, urged me to try out for the team again the following year (even with the new NCAA roster limit rules) and told me I was one of the last players cut. I tried out the following year and was cut again. Coach Mainieri told me how impressed he was with my determination and I told him it would be my last time trying out. I did it not to prove anything to myself, or to the coaching staff that I could still do it, but I did it for my father. I knew it would make him happy. Sure enough, it did, even though I didn’t make the team. Now, as a graduating senior at LSU, I have given my intent to declare for the MLB draft of 2012 (really, just to see if I’m picked) and he has already told me he is willing to help me get ready for the draft.
Without my father’s love for baseball, I would have never gotten these chances and would have been just a simple couch potato all of those years. Now my father has a season ticket plan to Washington Nationals games and he will take me to games when ever I’m home and get me tickets to every D’Backs game when they are in town and will enjoy the game over a beer and a hot-dog, the way it should be enjoyed. He even gave me his ticket to Stephen Strasburg’s debut game when he couldn’t make it since he was out of town in St. Louis (but I know he went to a Cardinals game while he was there).
Then, we have the following from Torpedosneak:
Ill make like underwear and keep it 'brief'
When i was little, my dad always tried to get me into baseball. He bought me Dodgers gear (Which, thanks to Cedar Point, called them Dodger cars) but i never really got into it. I would play baseball, but i mainly played soccer.
It wasn’t until the Dbacks in 1998 in which there was a team my dad could get me into. My first favorite player was Brent Brede (Ill take unheard of Dbacks for 300).
Skipping ahead I was psyched to be going to my first game, and I walked in right as they were opening the roof, and with all the corporeal music, it was the greatest sight I had ever seen. Since then on I was totally hooked.
Unfortunately, due to money issues i would not see another Dbacks game for awhile. Me and my dad alone went to watch The "Totally though Finley had that one" game at Shea in the ’99 NLDS.
I had to trust in Greg Shulte’s play by play for the next year, and as my dad would keep promising we would go to a game. It hurt to see the dates he said we would go come and pass, and I would get really angry at him for lying to me about it. It even got to the point where I would be throwing ball with the neighbors kid and dad just because he would be working anyway, and when he came home he would be too tired.
2001 came around, and my dad did land a pretty sweet job, but still no game. I wasnt really that close to my dad at all, him and my mom were getting a separation, and to no surprise but my own, a divorce. He would only be moving two miles away, but at that point I was still hurt. All he was was just a person i had to tell my bad grades to. But the Dbacks were doing awesome, and going to the Playoffs, so there was something to be pumped up about.
Well one day I was being picked up my dad for a Dentist Appointment, which i was a bit peeved about, but i figured as long as I was done soon, I could get home and watch the Cardinals vs Dbacks Game 5. My Dad managed to keep it from me, but when I hopped out of the car I realized we were 2 blocks down from Bank One. (Even then i retardedly commented: "Wish we could go!") He was holding a brand new "Arizona" away jersey (The one I liked, I was surprised that he was listening when i told him i liked the aways better). We had INSANE seats, behind home plate around 30 rows up.
When Womack hit that game winner he became my favorite Dback (and still is). I still cannot believe I got to see that, and its all thanks to my dad. He improved being a father starting with that, and from then on hes been one in a trillion. He coached my little league team, supported my move into the Air Force, and cancelled a meeting with Bill Gates himself to fly out to Germany after a Weapons platform malfunction landed me in a Hospital for a month.
In conclusion, I splurged and got great seats to the Marlins vs Dbacks for an early Fathers Day. And there, after HUNDREDS of baseball games, I caught a foul ball (even caught a puck at a hockey game and a ball at a rattlers game, but nothing at a baseball game to that point). That to me was Icing on the cake. Thank you Diamondbacks, and Thank you Dad. I love you (Hes gonna be reading this lol)
The last entry -- the most rec'd, for what it's worth -- came courtesy of dback4life:
Mine is about being a dad
My parents divorced when i was very young and i never had the opportunity to go to a game with my dad, after the divorce I rarely talked to him or saw him….
I got married almost exactly one year ago (June 12th, 2010) and i was lucky enough to have got an amazing 7 year old daughter (now 8) in the deal. I’ve known her for most her life since she was 1 since I was best friends with her mom before we ever started dating. She always wanted me to be her dad but until we got married and she could officially call me "dad", i never quite understood how much she looked up to me.
Anyways, she loves to play with her legos or draw whenever I’m watching my sports, I guess it’s our way of bonding as she will look up and watch and ask random questions about the game or why they just did what they did. One day she saw a girl who got a foul ball from her dad and she asked, dad why don’t we ever go to games? I had never thought about it, i guess i always assumed that she would get bored half way through and i would need to occupy her instead of paying attention to the game or leave early (I never leave early!!). So i found the next home game on the weekend and said I would take her. The day of the game, she found out I was taking my glove, and even though she has never played baseball in her life, she wanted a glove too that she could take to the game. Then she saw me getting my dbacks gear ready and she wanted a dbacks hat and shirt too. So there i found myself at the store getting a baseball glove, hat and shirt for a girl who had never been to a game or played a game of baseball in her life.
We got to the park and scalped some tickets in the bleachers. I immediately took out my big bag of Dill Pickle Spitz sun flower seeds (the best in my opinion). Again, just like the glove and hat and shirt, she had never had sunflower seeds. So she asked me for some and how to eat them and there we were, both spitting our sun flower seeds into our cups. It was the 6th or 7th inning and Adam LaRoche had hit a homerun to take the lead. There my daughter was, a cheek full of sunflower seeds, a glove in her left hand and she was climbing on to the bleacher seat so she could slap hi-fives to everyone around her just like dad was.
It was then I realized just how much my daughter looked up to me. How she saw me as a role model and wanted to emulate everything I did. She wanted that glove because dad had one, she wanted the dbacks shirt because dad had one, she wanted to eat the sun flower seeds because that’s what dad was doing at the game. Most importantly, she wanted to go to the baseball game because that’s what dad liked.
I guess to me, it took that to really realize that even though i wasn’t her biological father, I was 100% her dad and she never thought otherwise. Since then, we’ve made a deal that we will go to at least one baseball game a month and try to sit in a different area each time so she can experience the games differently each time. I know there will be a day where she won’t want to go to the baseball game anymore with dad when she grows out of it, but until then, i’m going to hold on to these moments as tight as I can.
So for those fathers, or future fathers to be, hold on to these moments and cherish them.
The five winners of the box set were the three above, plus Diamondhacks and soco. The top three, as stated, will all get points on the good ole leaderboard, which is shown in its updated form below.
No real shake-ups this week, as Bryan jumped from off the 'board into the top 20, dback4life found his way into top 8, and torpedo moved up way into the top 12. If you'd like to see where exactly you rank, you can check out the full leaderboard here on Google Docs. Moving the expanded standings to the cloud sure made my life easier. Love you, Google. Anyway, moving onto this week's challenge...
Put your fortune telling caps on for this one. Predict a newspaper headline from this September that reflects upon the season that was. Also, keep in mind that the very humor-minded Snakepit community will be judging these...
Yup, just get your submissions in before next week's post, most rec'd comments win, etc., etc.