Help from the Alma Mater… or striking out high schoolers

The picture at the top of this blog is me as a high school sophomore, pitching for Willmar High School. Willmar is where I grew up–but after my sophomore year, my family moved to Minneapolis, where I attended Minnehaha Academy for two years.

Seeing as I still know some of the coaches at Minnehaha, last week I contacted them and asked if it would be helpful to have someone come throw live game-like situations to the varsity team. They liked the idea, and invited me to come work out as much as I’d like over the next month–to get ready for the Saints tryouts.*

*A friend of mine has also asked the Cretin-Derham Hall coach if I could come throw to their varsity team, and he is excited about it. Needless to say, pitching to the best high school baseball program in the city is an excellent idea–but I thought starting with my alma mater would be both easier and have more margin for error. Little did I know that Minnehaha is slowly becoming a baseball powerhouse as well.

Anyway, today was my first day pitching to the team.

I left work a little early and made my way to the field wearing shorts, a t-shirt, my cleats, and a glove. I forgot a change of socks, so I had to wear my dress socks; and I also forgot a baseball cap. But back when I played at Minnehaha, baseball practice was pretty informal–so I thought I’d fit right in.

Pulling up to the sports complex, I thought I must have the wrong place. Fort Snelling has four fields, and only one of them had players on it–but they were all decked out in full snazzy uniforms. I thought Minnehaha must have canceled practice, and some college team was getting ready for a game.

I was wrong.

This was the new-and-improved Minnehaha Academy baseball program–and here I was–to put it nicely–coming in both old, and looking old school. (Cue the nerves)

While warming up, I chatted with some of the players, who said this could be one of the better Minnehaha teams ever. Gulp, I thought.

When I was completely warmed up, the coach introduced me to the team as a former player planning on trying out for the St. Paul Saints. So now I was old, looking old school, and sounding crazy. (Cue nervous panic).

I took the mound, and the nerves began to subside. Much to my relief, I soon realized that (despite all appearances to the contrary) I did still have some pitching skill, and all of my hard work was having at least some effect.

I threw the equivalent of about four innings (with the count starting at 1-1), and did pretty well. I was still wild, but had small stretches of sharpness. Even though I walked three guys in the last inning, I think my line would have looked something like this.

INN H    R     ER   BB   K
4     1     1     1     5     7

And the hit was a little dribbler off a curveball.

So it was glimmer of hope. I’m going back on Thursday to give it a go again. If it goes well, bring on Cretin-Derham Hall and the Joe Mauers of the future.


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