Ready To Play Ball

I have been fortunate to have attended a few ball games when I was much younger with my father and brother. Once my brother and I got older, we went to a game or two on our own. From the time we watched Vladimir Guerrero play when the expo’s actually existed, to the time the Red Sox denied Roger Clemens his 300th win, to the disappointment I felt when Barry Bonds would not be playing in the Mets vs. Giants game, which was inevitably canceled due to a New York City blackout, to the first game I watched in the new Citi Field, attending baseball games was always a sign of a good summer.

I have always had a weird relationship with baseball. There were always too many games for me to keep track of, but I still enjoyed the sport. I recall playing baseball with my brother and our neighborhood friends on our middle school field. I remember having home run derby’s with my brother and two cousins back when simply hitting the ball past the infield was a great feat for me. In 7th grade, I unsuccessfully tried out for my middle school baseball team with my best friend. I spent that following summer hitting tennis balls over my house from the backyard into the street to practice my swing. I remember when my brother and I got our first wooden bat—moving one step closer to the big leagues. My cousin and I once broke the window of my neighbors’ shed while playing catch—unsuccessfully—leaving outlines of a baseball that are still visible in the window today.   

Through all of my memories that are related to baseball, there is one that sticks out the most: breaking in my new glove. You see, as I am nearing the end of my undergraduate college career, I cannot help but compare myself to my baseball glove. There is an unexplainable excitement of purchasing a new baseball glove and the task of molding it to fit your hand. Nearly four years ago, I was similar to a new factory made, not-yet-broken-in baseball glove. I had not been creased or dirtied by sand or mud yet—the realities of life—and I was ready to be molded by the years that lied ahead of me. The last time I purchased a baseball glove, I went to great lengths to break it in. I spent days on the internet trying to find the best methods. I placed a ball inside my glove, tied some rope around it and let it sit. I took the glove and placed it under my mattress and slept on it for a few days. I even placed it in the microwave for some time. I walked around wearing it while forcefully throwing a ball into it to speed up the process. I was shaping the glove to be what I wanted it to be. I forced its creases and created the fluidity of movement to increase the likelihood that I successfully caught a ball.

Unbeknownst to me then, my four years in college were to be eerily similar to my breaking in of my new baseball glove. I was restrained in ways, and expected to conform in others. I went through countless processes that were thought to be efficient but were rendered ineffective by me. I changed my mind regarding my career path several times; I created many new creases in my glove of life. I was once adamant about becoming an anesthesiologist, then a pharmacist, then an orthopedic surgeon and team doctor for the New York Knicks, then a chaplain, then a professor, then a physician’s assistant, then a coach. Now, who knows what? I have realized that I was simply trying to prepare my baseball glove for the tough days when the weather would be bad and the games would be grueling. I was breaking it in to better prepare myself to perform to the best of my abilities. Likewise, the past four years have broken me in and have prepared me to perform my best beyond the university setting. There is no easy road to success during and after college. There is no microwaving, rope-tying method that is tried and tested. Through it all though, I know I am ready for the big day. I am anxiously awaiting the big leagues; the first pitch. I am ready to play ball.