Monday, April 28, 2008

Show & Tell

"Are you ready?"
" goes."
I pressed the start button and removed myself from the batting cage. I stood on the other side of the wire fence just behind Jenna, who was about to start her first of seven "at bats" in the softball cage at Star-Land.
The first ball landed with a whimper against the fence behind home plate.
So did the second.
And the third.
She seems to be ahead of the pitch.
It's been so long since I had to bat (1998, I believe) so I'm doubting my evaluation.
Yeah...she's ahead of the ball. And her stance is a bit wrong.
Twelve pitches and done. She's frustrated. And she hates being corrected.
Don't we all?
With Jenna, it is always better to "show" than to "tell". So I won't tell. Instead, I ask if I can take the next twelve pitches. She agrees.
Bat in hand, I stare down the automatic pitcher. It doesn't blink. Neither do I. Now I wait for the pitch.
I see the arm coming around, ball ready to fly...I feel my arms tense as I go into my swing...
The ball flies toward the back of the netting. That felt good. I hope it wasn't a lucky hit.
The ball flies toward the back of the netting. That felt good.
And so it goes...
After the sixth hit, I hear a voice behind me. "Okay, Dad..."
"Not improving my self-confidence..." she says with a laugh.
After twelve successful hits she re-enters the batting cage. "Let me see your stance," I ask. She obliges me.
Her legs are fine. Good. But her right arm needs to be up more. I tell her so. She moves it up without question. She wants another shot against the automaton. I feed the beast and hit the start button.
Outside the cage I watch her again. "Keep that arm up." She does.
Jenna is making contact but not completely. "You're ahead of the pitch, honey. Just wait for it."
More contact. Still not full. Twelve pitches later and we're evaluating again. A woman (late twenties, maybe?) who has been swinging in the cage next to us approaches our cage to wait her turn. I tell her she has a nice swing.
"Thanks. I've been at this for many years now."
"It's her first season," I say with pride as I gesture towards my daughter. Jenna stops to listen.
"May I make a suggestion?" the softball pro asks.
"Absolutely," I reply.
At this point she ignores me and looks right at Jenna. "You're ahead of the pitch."
Thank God I was right about that.
"Don't hurry. Take your time. The ball will get to you. Keep your weight on your back leg, wait for it, then swing."
"Thanks!" Jenna replies.
"Good luck," the pro answers back.
She doesn't stay close to the cage but I know she's still watching Jenna's next "at bat".
Before the first ball is pitched Jenna's arm is slack - until the ball is released. Then she raises her arm as she waits for the pitch to reach her and...
Into the outfield.
Next pitch.
She only misses two out of twelve. After a miss the very next pitch is a home run hit.
She keeps this up for the next three sets of twelve.
Finally, she looks beat. I want to leave on a positive note. "I think we're done here...?"
She agrees with me.
As Jenna leaves the batting cage there is a look of triumph in her eyes. As we walk away together I put my arm over her shoulder, hug her and say, "You did good in there, daughter of mine."
"I know."
Then, after her moment of self-congratulations, a quieter voice is heard.
"Thanks, Dad."
Believe me, no thanks were needed. But they were appreciated more than she'll ever know.


Blogger Cynthia said...

Wonderful post. Sounded something like a writing assignment I once had...bordering on poetry.

I'm so happy for you that you get to have a relationship with such a daughter.

10:29 PM, April 28, 2008  
Blogger Letera said...

OHhhhhhhh, that was so sweet of you. Daddy's and their daughters, its an amazing relationship. Is she the only child or are there others?

10:45 PM, April 28, 2008  
Blogger FoxInDetox said...

Nice job friend! Another excellent post. Exercise is key! You've been exercising a lot!

8:08 AM, April 29, 2008  
Blogger Andy said...

Letera, I have just just one child, my daughter. And as these other posters could probably tell you, she has made me a better person than I could ever have hoped to be.

8:38 AM, April 29, 2008  

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