My earliest memory of plastic baseball is playing in my back yard as a child with my mother. It was summertime, and I was either 4 or 5-years old. I had one of those fat red bats, and the plastic ball we used was as hard as a rock. The ball had a thick, hard plastic exterior with no holes on the outside, and was hollow on the inside.
The game with my mother didn’t last long. In fact, the game was probably shorter than the amount of time you’ve already spent reading this article. But I learned an important lesson from it.
Her very first pitch came zooming in at what seemed to be 80 mph from about 25 feet away, and hit me right in the face. It felt like a hard slap across my left cheek. It hurt. It was the first time I was ever hit by a pitch. I was confused. I thought I did something wrong. I didn’t lay on the ground like Mike Piazza did when Roger Clemens beaned him. For a few seconds, I couldn’t move. I was in shock. I just stood there. Then, I simply threw the bat aside, grabbed my cheek with both hands, ran back in the house fighting off tears, collapsed on the couch, and was thinking that my father never hit me like that when he pitched to me. He had better control of his pitches.
Looking back, my mom probably felt worse than I did. As any good mom would do, she made sure I was OK. However, this was the first and last time that we played plastic baseball together.
My mom always threw like a girl, well, because she is one. She was no Jennie Finch on the mound. It didn’t matter if you were 10 feet or 100 feet away, she always threw a ball, or any object, at the same speed — fast and at your head, with little control of where it would actually end up. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I got older. Luckily, getting beaned in the head at a young age didn’t cause me to give up plastic baseball completely. I just stopped playing it with her.
So although plastic baseball is a great family game that can be played in back yards all over the world, it’s not for everyone. On Mother’s Day, it’s probably best to leave the plastic baseball equipment in the garage. There’s always next weekend. Or, just wait until the end of the month for Memorial Day to bring out the Wiffle Ball gear.