Baseball Camp

There were many moments as a child where I was obsessed with certain things, only to fail miserably at upon actually taking part in them. Since then, I have always been an onlooker and never a participant.

When I was eight years old and in the second grade, I was particularly obsessed with baseball. I loved the sport, and one of my favorite things to do was collect baseball cards. I had binders full of them, and they’re still on the bookshelf in my parent’s house.

I also loved reading fictional novels about baseball, and sometimes even books about its history. I was ecstatic every time I went to a Pirates game, even when I knew there was a huge possibility they were going to lose. I wanted to be a pitcher.

I was so into baseball, that eventually I decided I wanted to play. Due to my lack of experience, I decided to join a summer baseball camp rather than try out for the actual school team.

The camp was very well organized. Every day we got to practice drills and scrimmages. My one friend James was at the camp too, so that made me feel a little better about being there and overall less alone.

I remember a specific moment though where things started to get sour. James and I were practicing our catches, throwing the ball to each other and catching it in our mitts. It felt pretty good to actually play the game.

Then, something happened. I don’t remember exactly how it played out, but my hands must have slipped or something, and the baseball that James let loose from his mitt hit me square in the chest.

I instantly got the wind knocked out of me. This, in my opinion, was probably the worst thing that could happen to you as a child. You instantly felt every ounce of air in your lungs empty out. The four or five times it happened in my youth, I felt like I was going to die.

In a moment of desperation, I ran over to the dugout and clenched the chain link fence, trying to get the coach’s attention.

After a minute or two, with the coach standing over me guiding me on how to calm down, I started to breathe normally again.

That was the first incident. The second one came a few days later, and if I remember correctly, it was on the last day of the camp. On this day, all of our parents got to see us play in a scrimmage game between all of the other kids that had been enrolled.

I don’t remember anything about the game or the score, but I remember the moment right before it happened. There was a pop up fly ball, and I swear it was important, like it was the last out we needed to get to the next inning. I was in left field, and saw the ball hurtling towards me.

I realized now was the time to put something that I had learned to the test. I crouched down like my coach said to do when aiming to catch a pop fly. I put my mitt over my head, waiting patiently for the ball to land directly inside it.

Something must have gone wrong, because the next thing I knew I felt a large blow to my head and I was unconscious for a few moments. When I came to, I saw a bunch of heads staring down at me.

I learned afterwards from my doctor, that no matter how small or big the case is a concussion is never good. A small concussion can still cause damage of some kind, and the most severe cases can of course result in memory loss and brain injury.

However, there are also stories about people that have gotten head injuries, sometimes sports inflicted, where due to the injury they instantly became more knowledgeable, as if the sudden blow to their head triggered some information they had not been able to channel before.

One example I heard was of a man who became incredibly good at math following a sports inflicted injury to the head. He could solve complex equations, and he even created his own mathematical theories. I’ve heard of similar occurrences, like how people sometimes come out of surgery speaking different languages.

Certain questions still haunt me to this day regarding the incident, and I can’t help but think of them. I think to myself sometimes, that maybe I could have been smarter if that baseball had hit me in the head only slightly differently.

However, the scariest realization is that not what I could have gained from the injury, but what I could have lost. Sometimes the worry creeps into my mind about how the injury could have caused a loss of emotional responses or knowledge that I had before it happened, something that I couldn’t have known that disappeared because the incident happened so long ago.

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