This week’s LA Daily appears to be about playing T-ball when I was six, but it’s actually about a whole lot more than that.
Not that it matters, but most of this is true.
When I was six years old, I set foot onto on a T-ball diamond for the first time.
I was skinny, awkward and unsure of myself – basically a smaller version of the teenager I’d eventually become – and I didn’t have very good coordination, but my dad loved baseball, and I knew that if my dad loved it, I loved it too, because that’s the way things work when you’re six.
It was the spring of 1978, when smog alerts were as common as reality shows are today, and hazy, reddish gold sunlight shone down on the field at Sunland Park. The sounds of other kids playing on the swings and in the giant rocket ship at the playground mingled with the smell of barbecue smoke as I stepped up to the plate to take my first practice swings.
My first swing connected with the middle of the tee. The baseball – in those days of gas lines and national malaise, we didn’t have the soft RIF balls my kids got to play with – fell off and landed in the batter’s box on the other side of the plate. The other kids giggled while the coach clapped his hands and shouted encouraging words to me as I picked the ball up and put it back on the tee.
I looked up and saw my father’s expectant face through the chainlink fence near the dugout. I slowly and deliberately lifted my bat, held it out at arm’s length, and aimed at the top of the tee with one eye closed. I stuck out my tongue and furrowed my brow. I tasted sweat on the corners of my mouth, and felt my heart beat in my ears.
The bat touched the ball, and it fell off again. The kids giggled again. The coach clapped again. I replaced the ball on the tee again.
“Come on, Willow,” my dad said. “You can do it!”
I took a deep breath, held the bat as tightly as I could, and swung for the fences.
It’s a busy, busy day for me. I got up early to write this morning, did some voice over work early this afternoon, and now I’m racing to beat a pretty important deadline, so I can announce something awesome tomorrow.