Thanks for the great forum- I would like to say that I am a Yanks fan-BUT, since moving to Sarasota from Raleigh, NC 4 months ago and because of the Hamilton move, I must say that the Reds are now my second favorite team. Couple that with the fact that I had a college teammate that made it to AAA with you guys about 8 years ago- (Eric LeBlanc-pitcher), and I can say you guys are ok with me. LOL I have been fortunate enough to catch 7 Reds ST games and have seen Hammy have 20 or so AB's...including the monster BOMB he hit at Mckechnie Field. Must have been 500 FT. It was standing room only at Ed Smith today and a beautiful day here. Also, I decided to pick up a 6 ounce pearl for the first time in 11 years to see if I could break the speed limit at the speed pitch booth. This is where it gets interesting. 4 throws all 4 seamers. Here are the results....non-alcoholic results ---lol
pitch 1---just a nice and easy 11 years off fastball--72 MPH--ok, my arm is still attached.
pitch 2---ok, I'm gonna hump up a little-mini crow hop---79 MPH. wow, not bad I thought...if only I was left handed I could turn it over and make a mill...
pitch 3---now I'm thinking, ok, full wind up time..YEAH.. steam it... lol 79MPH again...damn. Now the guy and the kids are telling me 1 more to go for 80 even though my dollar ran out on pitch 3.
so I take the bonus ball....as my tommy john repaired arm that never got a chance to chase my dream of playing yells at me just one more...and POP--
no, not my arm..but the blow up doll catcher and the gun registers 84 MPH-
The fans go crazy lol well, my wife smiles.... Anyways all of this gets me thinking. I was a pitcher once...in college. I was submitted to the Major League Scouting Bureau and had 6 to 10 scouts at my game to watch me, LeBlanc, and our centerfielder Glen Barker, who did make it to the Houston Astros for a few years. I did throw 88-91 then with a couple of bone spurs and eventually a torn ulnar collateral ligament that I didn't know about-(more to come on this-stanby). Anyways, so I am thinking today, inspired by the Hamilton comeback and feeling like I never had my chance to play at the next level- what if I get back in the gym, start a throwing program, and mount what would really not be a comeback, but just a shot- a shot I never got? I am now 34, I am thinking to myself, if I do not do it now I will never know. Plus, I did have Tommy John Surgery back in 1996 in hopes of going to spring training back then. But I didn't have the financial support from family, (dad left when I was 1 and mom busted her butt to raise my brother and me), but I really didn't have a support system to lean on after college was over and I had surgery. I was forced to get a "normal job" and my dream was lost and buried under UPS boxes....(yes, I worked as a manager at UPS)..In fact, here is a little side note...one of my employees was Brien Taylor- yup, the 1st overall pick of the 1991 amatuer draft and the first 1 million dollar sign on bonus player. He suffered that terrible shoulder injury to his throwing arm standing up for his brother out in Beaufort, NC. So their I was working the night shift at the Raleigh UPS Hub in a arm brace-( not able to long toss the QVC and Home Shopping Network boxes to Taylor) LOL that I adjust a dial on every week. I really cannot afford to go to rehab because the injury was not done at UPS and my college just outright shafted me by not paying for it..(again, lack of support system to guide me). While in school, I went to Dr. Pappas at UMASS and he missed the tear....he said if I wanted to pitch the rest of my college season to get a cortizone shot and it would decrease the inflammation caused by "tendonitis". Yeah, I had tendonitis alright......GEEZ--I was pitching with a torn medial collateral ligament and my coach at college told me he needed me because we were trying to get an NCAA bid. "I was on scholarship and needed to earn it." So, great, 38 degree tempeture and here I am with a cortizone shot, muscle stim, ultrasound, and stock in Motrin and having my coach run me out there with a torn UCL. Of course, my command was hit and miss along with my velocity. But because Pappas didn't do an MRI Arthrogram or a CT arthrogram he didn't find it...So here is what happend....I do not get drafted at all- I end up moving to Raleigh NC from Albany NY and I end up going to Duke to get another opinion. Mind you I am on my own just trying to find a way to fix my arm so I can catch on somewhere, anywhere- Northern League, whatever. Of course, they find the tear, and of course, I am absolutely not surprised because I knew it was either bone spurs, cartiledge, or the worst--torn UCL. I get the surgery, it goes great, I have it around Christmas- 1996 and I cannot afford to rehab, or focus on baseball because I needed to make money to live. So I unfortunately lost focus on my dream and for the last 10 years have been working in the real world. The whole time I am following my friends who got drafted and watching the Yanks rule the late 1990's. While I am in Raleigh I hear about this kid at Athens Drive High School-(over near NC State) name Josh Hamilton and I hear he is the next Roy Hobbs. It is now 1997-1999 and I get to follow this kid while I am running the tightest ship in the shipping business...lol. When he goes 1st in the draft ahead of Josh Beckett, I am thinking, wow what a great story. An all American kid with a family that is together and a great support system- this kid is gonna be the next Don Mattingly-(again I'm a Yankees fan and he was my man growing up). Im 27 or so when he signs and reminding myself that I had my chance and I got hurt-life is tough sometimes and I need to deal with it. So lets fast forward a bit to a dump trunk in Bradenton, FL and a lost kid without his support system. Man, when I heard that Hamilton was using and ...we all know the story-at least real baseball fans do so I don't need to go into details, I thought OMG-how can this be? He had it all. 3.96 Mil, the family, the talent...man was I upset. I followed his story off and on. It was like a daytime soap that you could miss for a bunch of episodes but then catch it and still know what is going on. Fast forwad a little more. When he was re-instated. He winds up at Hudson Valley last year and my summer league college teammate and long time Rays farm hand, Matt Quatraro is managing there. How weird, my summer league catcher is now managing him. Anyways, I follow closer and he is now playing close to my college. I am rooting for him to make strides. After all of his fights and staying clean he goes down with a knee last summer and I think, well he will come back if he stays clean. And now fast forward again...I move to Sarasota to take a job as a bank manager and here he is with The Narrons' as a rule V...Narrons part of the NC connection....Johnny coached him on a select team..along with Barry Foote's son Derrick. Now, I am in a great financial position and able to support myself at 34 years of age. And I am getting ready to take my shot. A shot I never got and a shot I am taking for me. I don't care if I play 1 game professionally. I just want to be able to say I got my shot and I have no regrets. Hamilton def. inspired me. He was/is fighting for his life from this wicked devil and he is winning. If he can fight back and battle, then so can I. I will be training at the Fusion Fitness in Bradenton, Fl starting Monday, March 20th. I will be working toward a tryout- and hopefully the chance to face Hammer at that tryout. That is my goal. I am not too out of shape. 6'2, 210 , and a fastball after a 11 year layoff in the mid 80's..I'll keep you updated. Jason