How Being a Great catcher Can Change Your Life
Baseball is truly an American sport! Over my 50 years in Johnson County, Mississippi many men have shared their version of what being “in the game” feels like. I can just imagine the pride a father feels when his kid is named after him or the joy a grandfather receives from spending time with his grandson or great-grandchildren. I’ve never known anyone who participated in organized baseball who did not have a therapeutic effect on the players themselves. Baseball, in my opinion, is the greatest of all sports. One of the great things about baseball, like other sports, is you can “set-up” your own expectations. I think most people quickly realize how much physical activity can help a person’s mental and emotional well-being. I think everyone can agree that when you start a game, your physical needs are immediately met. You sprint out to the field, get suited-up, change into your gear, and “ooh, this feels good” as you put on a glove, a helmet, pick up a bat, and feel the weight of it against your ample arms. Cheering for a teammate, cracking a baseball, or throwing the old-fashioned fit ball is all a part of the exhilaration many of us feel throughout most of every game. I feel that all of us are permanently changed when we go up to bat in the sixth inning of a high school game, or coil a spring-loaded bat as we send one soft-toss softball seemingly miles into the night sky. The good news is that even though most of us have “feelings” on the order of what we do, we have very little actual, tangible control over any of these thoughts. Before I share with you some of my favorite examples of how being a great catcher can change your life, let me share my story with you first. I’m older now, having been a member of the U.S. Navy for over 30 years. The purpose of my navy service was to obtain a scholarship in rotary wing operations, exactly the kind of work a catcher-outfielder would need to pursue. During my academics, I also became accomplished in the study of Academic Robotics. These types of courses tend to have a military feel to them, as you have a lot of work in controlling robotic systems, often doing tasks in your living room and at night. As soon as my classes were complete, I obtained an opportunity to go out and obtain my captain’s scholarship. This gave me the opportunity to continue my studies. The Navy, being in charge of any organization, lends its leadership in dealing with various clubs and associations. In this case, the Navy ran a club called “Eagle.” This group met at the Fletcher’s Island Naval Air Station. Every Friday night, starting in the fall, all members of Eagle Club rushed to Fletcher’s Island to watch the “Eagles” thunder on the field. Over the years, they established an identity with the club and showed up whenever they could. Most clubs don’t have this kind of access, particularly a club like Eagle that’s free to join. Such accessibility is most likely a result of the club’s long history. Eagle was established as a properly organized social organization to share information about West Coast and East Coast vessel operations. Their access was quite unique. Any time a high-ranking official came to the island, members were invited to the hearing well before its scheduled time. This access allowed members to establish friendships and enjoy the camaraderie that was unique to the club. Eagle’s primary purpose was to provide the public with an outlet for discussing the ship’s activities. Their publication was a tool frequently used to maintain this communication. Anyone interested in learning more about the operation of ships and their crews was welcome and could be assured the club was dedicated to providing information only and nothing more. As I said earlier, I’m lucky enough to have been a part of this scene. But I’ve never taken the first step by joining the Navy to become a vessel owner. If Tinker did and gotten my captain’s license upgrade, I’d certainly love to be able to talk to him and share the many lessons.