The Boy Who Threw Strikes – A New Grip On Reality

After Dougie Walsh pitched (perhaps) the worst game of his young baseball career, he hopped in his mom’s car with a giant scowl on his face. His mom asked him what happened out there today. Dougie shrugged and said, “I don’t know, I just couldn’t get a good feel for the baseball.” His mom asked him to show her his pitching hand. “Dougie,” she exclaimed, “your hand is swollen and infected looking. I’m taking you to an urgent care center right now.” Dougie had been quiet about his hornet’s nest incident, donning batting gloves since he got stung several times. Dougie’s hand was indeed swollen and the stings remained untreated with any medication. Most likely the cause of Dougie’s poor performance.

The attending triage nurse took one look at Dougie’s hand and escorted him into an available treatment room. “When did this happen?” asked the nurse. “About a week ago,” answered Dougie with his mom now the one scowling. “Well, you got stung pretty bad, I’ll be right back with some tweezers and some soothing lotion.” The nurse returned and applied a numbing lotion to Dougie’s hand and then began to remove tiny stingers. “Geez Dougie, you had these in your hand all week and didn’t say anything to anyone?” asked his mother. “What the heck happened.” Dougie, while the nurse was pulling tiny stingers out, told his mom the story of the talent show and Amanda heading off with a senior and the hornets nest throw. The nurse and Dougie’s mom looked at each other with sympathetic faces.

When the nurse was finished pulling out what she could from Dougie’s hand, she wrapped his right hand up in bandages and gave Dougie instructions. “Rest, re-apply this lotion, re-bandage – 7 days Dougie, no activity other than school work.” “But I’m in season, the coach will be so mad,” Dougie exclaimed. “I’ll write you a doctor’s note for baseball and school and gym class. It’s just one week, to help you heal,” assured the nurse. Dougie left the urgent care center with a similar scowl like the one he entered his mom’s car with about an hour ago.

One week went by, Dougie did as he was told, no activity. Lotion, bandage, rest – it was tough for Dougie but he got through it. He ended up missing one start and served as the first base coach for his high school team’s two games during the week. On the Saturday, the 7th day, Dougie returned to the urgent care center with his mom. The nurse took a look at his hand – no more swelling. “You are free to participate in baseball again Dougie. And don’t worry about the girl situation, I have a feeling you will do just fine in that category,” and she gave Dougie a little wink. Dougie’s mom drove him home and he immediately went to the garage, grabbed his glove, a bucket of baseballs and went about re-engaging his accuracy. After a few warmup tosses, the fireballing Dougie Walsh was back striking target after target. However, this time he feel something different. His pitch speed had picked up. And not just a little. His fastball was really humming.

And there was something different about his hand and the way he gripped the baseball. It was almost like, like he had some kind of extra, tiny stingers gripping it with him. Dougie picked up a baseball, focused on a row of bowling pins about 50 feet away on a table, then fired a strike and knocked down a pin. The pin almost shattered from the force of this now superspeed fastball. Dougie looked down at his hand and noticed a hundred tiny little stingers retracting into this hand. He picked up another baseball and repeated the feat – windup, arm back, fastball thrown, landing foot down, look at his hand. Yes, Dougie had tiny stingers in his hand helping him grip and rip fastballs now.

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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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