Ronald My Pitching Debut or How The Wind Came Out Of My Sails We had a Little League association in our area whose home was in the fields to the immediate South of Wasatch Elementary School. I first learned about the league from David Clark who encouraged me to sign up during the summer before I turned eight. The regulations stipulated that players had to be eight prior to August 1st but David had persuaded the coach of his team on my behalf and I was in, playing on his same team. We were sponsored by his grandfather’s company, P.L. Larsen Plumbing and this name was emblazoned on the back of our uniforms. With David’s encouragement, we took this whole idea of baseball very seriously. Our daily swim in the city pool and later the pool at Helaman Halls was not allowed as this would produce an excessive drain on our bodies and the chlorine in the water would leave our eyes bloodshot–not good for ball players. So while everyone went off swimming, we stayed home. Hours before the game we would dress in our uniforms, carefully putting on the long white socks under our colored stirrup socks. Simply wearing ordinary white tube socks, like most of the other boys did, was not allowed under David’s tutelage. The black stirrup socks had to be raised high up to accommodate the style that prevailed in the big leagues at the time and consequently this required that we cut the part of the sock that went under the foot and insert a piece of stretch elastic. Our pants were turned under just below the knees. Under our shirt we wore white jersey shirts with black sleeves that would extend out from under the uniform, the sleeves matching the color of our stirrup socks and the trim on our gray uniforms. These we had to buy with our own savings at Provo Sporting Goods. Most of the other boys didn’t wear the jersey shirt. Last of all we put on our tennis shoes and carried our spiked shoes with the laces tied together through our baseball gloves. That way the plastic spikes would not get worn down along the sidewalks on the trip to the diamond. Invariably, we would be the first ones to arrive by a great distance of time. After a while the chalkie would come to lay out the first and third base lines, the batting boxes and catcher’s zone and the circles for the warm-up batter. Slowly the coaches and players would arrive and we would begin the warm-up by playing catch along side the dugout that we had been assigned depending on whether we were the home or visiting team. During the first year, I played right field. The coach could be sure that I wouldn’t see too much action there as it usually took a good left handed batter to place a ball in that direction. I enjoyed the game but recall that I spent a lot of time being nervous. Nervous about seeing a ball rise up in my direction, nervous when I would step up to the plate to face the pitcher. On the other hand, David seemed enthusiastic and confident. He was the pitcher and shortstop, the most respected positions on the field. Our team won the Northeast Little League Championship and we went on to the All City Tournament held at the fields on 5th North and 5th West. It was a week of hot August weather. I had improved enough that when our second baseman failed to show up for a game, I was brought in from the outfield. I heard one of the boys on the team express a great “Oh no!” when he learned of this. That caused the dread I already felt to deepen even further. The following year Ed Pinegar was the coach of the team I was assigned to–we were sponsored by Provo Sporting Goods. He decided that I would make a good catcher. I was very happy behind the plate and enjoyed being in charge of the defense, as it were, hollering to the other players and encouraging the pitcher. In my final year of little league, David Porter took responsibility for our team and he extended great zeal in his coaching efforts. The final game of the season was with P.L. Larsen Plumbing, the best team in the league. The winner would get to go on to the All-City tournament. Jeff Clark, like his brothers before him, pitched for this team. The game got under way and by the third inning we were behind by a wide margin. A substitute pitcher was put in to no avail. We continued to give up runs. I begged Coach Porter for a chance to pitch and he finally relented even though it was something I had never done it before. We had nothing to lose. So I took my place at the mound and went through the wind-up–I loved the ritual of the pitcher’s windup. With ball in hand you take one step back towards second base while lifting both hands overhead, then, turning on the right foot towards third base while bringing the left leg around, lifting it high to add momentum and thrust to the throw while the right arm is cocked back. In the follow-through, the ball is released to the target the catcher has set. All very elegant, if you know what you are doing. With this experience, any confidence I had in my athletic ability was brought into serious question. My pitching debut was a disaster! The few times that I was able to get the ball in the strike zone it was blasted over my head. It became clear to me and to everyone watching that I had an awkward style of throwing the ball. I was humiliated by the jeers from the opposing team, “He throws like a girl!” Coach Porter kindly removed me from the game. At the close of that season, Jeff Turner and I were voted co-MVPs for our team and each given trophies by Coach Porter. I also received a trophy for having hit the most home-runs. I could have also been awarded, if there had been one, the trophy for the most strikeouts. I was the classic home run hitter: The ball either went over the fence or it went no where.