Throwing to the Athletics

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
-Walt Disney

Like a kid before the big game, I wore my A’s uniform shirt to bed. I dreamt of
throwing strikes. Yesterday, I threw batting practice to the Oakland Athletics.
And it was an amazing feeling, another dream come true.

I picked up my A’s uniform on Tuesday at the Stadium, so I came to the practice
field fully dressed and ready to go. The media attention started just steps
away from the parking lot. My 13-year-old daughter became bashful and looked
down and away from the photographers. I whispered to her, “Look up; It’s the
one thing I have learned in life.”

As the A’s began their team stretch, I ran over to the coaching staff and
introduced myself. Bench Coach Joel Skinner and I went over the practice plan.
I would throw BP around 11:30, on field 4, to Coco Crisp, Daric Barton, David
Dejesus, and Landon Powell. I was assured, “They’re all good guys.”

A’s Manager Bob Geren offered to warm me up. So we played catch for a while. As I was throwing, my foot slipped on some wet grass, and I felt my right groin
twitch. I knew instantly that in that one misstep, I had reinjured a nagging
groin injury. But I had thrown BP to three colleges with that same injury just
a week-and-a half earlier, so I knew I could still throw to the A’s. Plus,
there isn’t anything that could have kept me off that mound; my dream was up
there.

As I stepped behind the L screen, preparing to throw, I stopped and admired the
basket of baseballs beside me. They were so white, so shiny, so beautiful. This
ball has brought so much joy to my life. I smiled, picked up four baseballs,
and readied myself to pitch.

I had a little trouble settling in to my BP session. After I threw four balls
in a row, I stepped away, turned my back to the batter, and thought to myself,
“This is what I feared most – not throwing strikes. And everything is still
okay.” I smiled and thought of Christina Taylor and my spiritual pact with her
to have fun. I whispered to myself, “I can do this.” I then turned to face
Crisp, reminded myself to get my glove side up, took a deep breath, and threw a
strike…and another one. I had found some rhythm.

As I noticed their pitch selection, it became evident that the players were on
a mission of their own. The A’s hitters wanted a ball on the inside, at waist
level, that they could turn on and try to jack out of the park. They were
playing home run derby. Just like kids. And they were having fun. And so was I.

5 Comments

Justine,
I have not commented since your post “Believe in Your Dreams”, but today to my delight, I caught up reading all the posts and comments. You are not only an inspiration on the field but with your writing. I am even taking note of your music selection and your quotes (other ones you quoted and your own). I am your fan!

So what is next after throwing to the A’s? Will you stay af few days in Arizona to watch some games? My friends and I are heading to Camelback Ranch from the LA area Saturday morning (Looks like it will be raining Saturday along the way). Wish you could throw to our boys in Blue!
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

Justine, my ten year old daughter wants to play the game, and seeing you out there is a shining example for her that yeah, girls can play baseball too. Great role model, thank you.

-Mo
http://morrismcdoo.mlblogs.com/

Congratulations on achieving one of your dreams! It sounds like you did yourself and everyone proud and had a great time doing it. I am proud of you for blazing a trail for female athletes and I am proud of the Indians and the A’s because it sounds like they welcomed you to batting practice with the same respect as their other batting practice pitchers. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
I’m with Emma, what’s next for you?
Kristen
This is a very simple game…

So great what you are doing – I hope that more girls take up baseball – one day we will have women in Major League Baseball!

Hi Justine Im new to the MLBlogs. So glad I found this post on your positive experience with the Oakland A’s. Makes me proud to be an A’s fan. I can only imagine being able to stand on the mound and take in the stadium from that perspective, exciting! Did ya take any pictures that day? Would love to see em.
Jon
http://invariablybaseball.mlblogs.com/

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