Monthly Archives: January 2017
Visiting Gramma Kramer in Worthington still ranks as one of the best Saturday night activities of my life.
Top 3 highlights, for sure, maybe even higher.
There were always cousins to play with, fun things to do, places to run around, aunts and uncles to talk to.
Enjoyed having Ben Digmann and his girls over to the house tonight to watch the Hawkeyes.
The basement family room in Farley was my indoor training facility during the winters of 1991-93.
I kept my 32-inch, 28-ounce Easton handy throughout the cold months. I swung that bat every day, watching myself in the mirror, studying my technique, tweaking the dozens of things that go into a great swing.
Iowa’s cruel winter wasn’t going to stop me from becoming a successful hitter.
Slugging baseballs was an obsession for me from the ages of 11 to 15. I wanted nothing more than to be an offensive force.
Matt Rauen and I spent hundreds of hours in the batting cage at Farley Park, hitting off the pitching machine.
John McDermott and I would engage in fast-pitch battles in Dad’s driveway.
I read how-to books that provided advice (“Pete Rose on Hitting” was my favorite.)
And I studied the great Farley Hawks of that era and how they swung the bat. Marty Till and his prodigious power. Scott Harris and his picture-perfect technique. Paul Scherrman and his quick and powerful wrists. John Ackerman and the way he made it all look too easy.
I peaked early, of course, and found myself with a meager batting average during my senior year. I couldn’t catch up to the fastball. I couldn’t track the curveball.
But those winter practice sessions in Mom and Dad’s basement stuck with me. My technique was almost flawless.
“You’ve got the best swing on this team,” my high school coach, Scott Harris, told me one day during practice. “Best swing on this team.”
I took that as high praise, considering the sluggers we had on the 1995 Western Dubuque roster. We had an outstanding team — a conference champion with one of the most potent offenses in the state.
And those words meant a lot coming from Scott Harris. He’s one of the best hitters Dubuque County has ever produced. A surefire Dubuque County Baseball Hall of Famer whenever he decides to officially retire from the Hawks.
Matt Rauen is an eye surgeon now, a super-smart guy who doesn’t say anything unless he thinks it’s true.
“You know more about the mechanics of a baseball or softball swing than 95 percent of the coaches in central Iowa,” he told me recently.
I doubt that’s accurate, but I appreciated the sentiment. I’ve certainly watched more baseball games in the last 40 years than almost anybody, so maybe Matt is on to something.
I don’t like to talk about my strengths. I’m not a boastful person. But I do seem to understand the elements of a good swing. Can I teach it? I’m not sure. But in my mind, I “get it.”
So all of this brings me to my current situation.
Maisa is a good little softball player. He struck out just once during all of 2016, an impressive statistic for a kid. She was practically always on base and scoring runs.
But hey, life is about getting better. So I’ve been talking to Maisa about ways to make her swing more efficient and more powerful. It’s been a challenge for her, frustrating at times.
I’ve decided to back off, because I’m confident she’ll figure it out on her own. I just want her to love and enjoy the game. I want softball to be fun for her.
I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing — cutting back on the instruction — because I believe I have some valuable knowledge that would help my little slugger.
Hopefully at some point she’ll come to me and say “Hey Dad, can you help me with this?”