Throwing to the Indians
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
“It is not the honor that you take with you, but the heritage you leave
I awoke this morning after an amazing and full day yesterday with 3 meditative
thoughts: Thank you. May I serve. May I be a role model. Yesterday’s experience
throwing BP to the Cleveland Indians was a dream come true.
When I entered the umpires’ locker room and saw my Indians jersey with my
number 15 on it, I couldn’t stop smiling. I thought of my grandfather as I put
on that uniform. I thought of all the Indians games we had attended together
when I was a kid.
After changing into my uniform, my first test was to throw to the minor
leaguers. I thanked the Indians minor league coach for letting me “Crash his
practice” and we proceeded to warm up in the outfield. When it was time to
throw BP, I was really nervous. My heart was pounding. Out of the corner of my
eye I could see the media watching and the hitters waiting in front of me. I
reached into the ball basket, put three balls in my left hand, gripped the 4th
ball with my right hand, and then threw my first pitch for a strike. After
about 50 pitches or so (we emptied the ball basket), I walked off the field.
Carter Hawkins, the Assistant Director of Player Development, handed me an
Indians sweatshirt. He told me to put it on to keep my arm warm. He smiled and
said I would be throwing to the major leaguers next. I breathed a sign of
relief; I had passed the test.
After throwing to the minor leaguers, I spoke to the media. As I stood there
looking at the reporters with their cameras looking back, I awkwardly said,
“I’m kind of new to this, so what do you want me to do?” Then the questions
came: “How long have you been playing baseball?” (Since I was 5.) “What does my organization do?” (We help girls and women get involved in the game of
baseball.) “Where have you coached before?” (Springfield College and the
professional Brockton Rox.) The media session was about 15 minutes long. A few
reporters also interviewed my 13-year-old daughter Jasmine, who was wearing her Baseball For All jersey.
As we walked from the minor league field to where the major league players were taking BP, an Indians pitcher looked up from his training and asked, “How’d she do?” Hawkins nodded his head and replied, “It was money.”
As I waited for my turn to throw BP, I got a bit antsy. So I asked if there was
someone I could warm up with. A few minutes later, I turned around and Indians Manager Manny Acta was there to throw with me. Wow! As we began to throw, I warned him that I was a bit nervous and that maybe the reporters should move farther away. He said it would be okay. Sure enough, a few throws later, one got away from me and sailed over Acta’s head. I yelled, “Sorry!”
As I stood behind the BP net, ready to make history, I had never been so
nervous in my life. My hands were so clammy the ball kept sticking to my right
hand. I began throwing and the guys started hitting. I heard and felt one ball
whiz past my head. I was an inch away from death but I was having the time of
my life. When the BP round was over, the hitters thanked me and I thanked them.
A player asked me when I could throw again. I smiled: “Tomorrow.”