Once upon a time a long time ago, I was a little “Big A”, a Little League baseball team in Broomall, Pennsylvania. So was Coach McBride’s short son, Dickie, the 10 year-old Little League All Star catch. I was the smaller than small 8 yr. old Big A’s bench-warmer without a position.
I came to the plate once as an 8 yr. old. “Stewart,” said Mr. McBride, “Get a bat. You’re going to pinch hit. We’ve got to get somebody on base. You’re the man. Robin Williams is the best in the league, but you’ve got the smallest strike zone. So… here’s what I want you to do. Crouch down. Don’t take the bat off your shoulder. Make him pitch to you. No matter how good the pitch looks, DON’T SWING. Got it?”
“Got it, Coach.”
Three pitches later, the bat was still on my shoulder. I struck out on three called strikes. But the truth was I could barely see Robin’s fast ball!
When the McBride family moved to Cleveland the next year, the Big A’s had no catcher. The new coach lined all us Big As up in a row along the first base line. “We don’t have a catcher. Who’d like to catch?”
No hands went up. Not a one.
“Here’s my big chance to get off the bench. Dickie was short. Size didn’t matter to Dickie!” said I to myself.
“I’ll try it!”
They strapped on the shin guards, six inches taller than my knees. The chest protector draped over my torso like a horse blanket over a pony. The mask and catcher’s mitt were heavy. Freddie Lamb took the mound. Bobby Lawson stepped into the batter’s box. The pitch came. Bobby swung and missed. I blinked…but, to my surprise, caught the ball. From that moment on I was the Big A’s little catcher.
Moral of the story? If you’re short, don’t count yourself out. You, too, could proudly wear the tools of ignorance, and become another Big A’s All Star catcher.
- Gordon C. Stewart, Big A forever with Freddie Lamb, Bobby Lawson, Ron Nagy, Kenny Olson, Arden Silverian, Gary Boen, Robbie Gillmor, and all the rest. You guys were the best! Love you all. November 10, 2015.