the first and hardest thing you have to learn about baseball is how to catch. how to trust your own hand inside that stiff leather, oversized glove to not let the ball hit you square in the face, or privates, or stomach. at first you might awkwardly freak out when the ball is thrown to you from your dad or brother or aunt or cousin. you will probably put your body as far away from the ball as possible and meekly stick out your arm towards the ball. your glove limp and dangling off your hand, your eyes closed. what's the fun in that? if you are going to be in a constant state of fear every time you have a catch, there’s no point.
but wait! don’t give up! don’t walk away! there is a lesson somewhere in here, and i know you can do this. you aren’t the quitting type. just because you read books or play the clarinet or love theatre doesn’t mean you can’t make a layup, you know? it doesn't mean you can't feel the thrill of rounding third base. there is art in sport. there is passion. there is practice and patience. there is reward. and there is a lesson in catching a baseball.
it’s a lesson that says you can trust yourself. it is a lesson in confidence. that your eyes and brain and limbs can work together in amazing ways. just like when you are painting or video gaming. now open that mitt wide. give it a couple pounds with your fist. get it ready. get it loose. the the most important rule is, NEVER take your eyes off that ball. follow that white round spinning thing every inch it floats through the air. shut out everything else and focus. don’t back away, you don’t even have to move. it’s coming straight at your chest. it’s not going to hit your chest though, because you have now aligned you glove to exactly where it will arrive. you didn’t even realize you did this. remember that whole brain and limbs thing? they are on your team.
whew. you are milliseconds away from making a great catch. just thought you should know that. all you have to do is keep your eyes on the ball. watch it all the way into the glove. now squeeze! use your other hand to help you squeeze, and to keep the ball from falling out. hear that sound? the snap of the baseball perfectly hitting the pocket of a leather glove. it’s one of the best sounds in sports.
you caught a baseball. you were a little scared, but it wasn’t too bad. you can do anything. now whip that thing back in a way that says, give me your best shot. i’m ready for whatever comes my way.