Hardball

Linus is playing in a fall baseball league. It’s for kids age 10 to 12, but Linus and a few other nine year-olds were invited to play up based on their ability. It’s the first live pitching Linus has faced other than me.

We didn’t really know what to expect. I did tell him that many times kids that age have a hard time finding the strike zone. It makes for long games, and it’s also tough on the kids. Kids want to hit the baseball, not draw walks. But at the same time, you don’t want them swinging at pitches that are so far out of the strike zone they simply can’t hit them.

The first game was interesting. There are two or three nine year-olds on Linus’s team. There are a couple kids on the team who just started seventh grade; big difference between a fourth-grader and a seventh-grader. One kid, the coach’s son, is probably taller than I am. I caught a couple of the young kids just staring up at him, mouth agape. They were definitely intimidated.

Then the game started; the coach’s kid is the first pitcher Linus’s team uses. Basically, this is one of those kids you see throwing in the little league world series; he’s certainly going to be pitching in high school, perhaps even as a freshman. No question he throws harder than I do, he pounds the strike zone (mostly) and for good measure throws a nasty 12-to-6 curveball that just made me and a couple other parents laugh.  I think one kid made contact, a foul ball. Most didn’t even bother to swing. I was stunned; Linus later said he was very, very glad that kid is on his team.

The other pitchers in the league range from decent to first-timers.  In three games, Linus has two strikeouts, has been hit by pitches twice, and has seven walks. Great on-base percentage!

His last game ended when he was hit in the mouth by a pitch. Fortunately the kid didn’t throw very hard, but when you take one in the chops it doesn’t have to be a hard pitch. Linus was fine, getting ready to take his base, when suddenly blood started running down his cheek. I ran out to check on him to see what happened; I thought he was bleeding from the mouth and was obviously concerned. When he saw the blood (and tasted the blood), he also got concerned. He didn’t cry, but he was shaken up; all the adults recoiling and gasping and screaming for a first aid kit probably contributed to his concern.

And then I saw that he wasn’t bleeding from his mouth; he was bleeding (profusely) from a hole in his cheek. The ball had smashed his cheek into his teeth, and his awkward combination of baby and adult teeth means a couple teeth point out more than down. One of those teeth pushed right through his cheek, creating the hole. It was a bizarre injury, to say the least.

We cleaned him up and took him into an urgent care facility. I could tell he was afraid of needing stitches, and truthfully I was too. But the hole was small enough they were able to superglue it shut, and so far, so good. He’s only able to eat soft foods right now because the inside of his mouth is still pretty raw, but mouths heal fast. His face is all kinds of swollen right now…just in time for school pictures yesterday. (He’ll get the retakes.)

He has another game on Sunday, and he told me he’s playing. He doesn’t want that to be his last pitch before winter, and of course, he wants to get a hit.

That’s my boy.

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10 Responses to Hardball

  1. ndintenfass says:

    Having no sports acumen whatsoever, I fear letting my son down on this front.

  2. David R says:

    Good for him. I don’t remember what age I was when I took a fastball to the head, but I do remember a rapid switch to basketball and tennis soon thereafter.

  3. kelly says:

    Go Linus! A tooth through the cheek without crying? Not sure I could pull that off. And after that wanting to get back in the game!! Holy cow.

    Sounds like it may have rattled you and Jane more than him.

  4. Jim says:

    Jesus! I’m glad to say I never took one in the face, and I’m embarrassed to say I wouldn’t have been as tough as Linus about it. I also would have stepped in the bucket on every pitch for a month. Kudos to Linus.

  5. I would not be surprised to see him stepping in the bucket next Sunday. But it’s the first time he’s had to deal with this kind of thing, so time will tell.

    I think the main thing that really rattled him was the thought of having stitches in his face. And frankly, the thought of having to hold his hand and be all tough and supportive while watching them stitch his face up…let’s just say I was also glad the superglue remedy was available.

  6. David says:

    I’m guessing the kids are wearing cages, right? Still, loose helmets and fast balls can do some damage. It’s good to see Linus has that competitive nature.

  7. Pipeline says:

    No cages, just the standard batting helmet with ear flaps. A cage would have protected him, though.

    He ended up not playing; he had a blood vessel burst in his cheek Thursday night and we had to take him in and have the blood drained out (which is ultimately did by itself on the inside of his mouth; the glue was still sealing the outside wound shut). After that episode, it was a mutual family decision to simply enjoy a picture-perfect fall weekend and not push his luck.

  8. blaze says:

    Oh Boy, another one of those parents that think his kid is a superstar and needs to play a level up, see what you get!

  9. Linus is clearly not a superstar. He’s more of a team catalyst with that .777 OBP!

  10. mrfares says:

    Rats. I was hoping you reused the hardball headline for a witty reflection on michelle bachman’s most recent stop on her descent into maaadness

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