My two favorite movies of 1993 are Jurassic Park and Rookie of the Year. While I’d love to debate that sprinting through a flock of Gallimimus makes Dr. Grant, Tim, and Lexi track stars, they’re not actually flocking this way. Instead, I’m going to dive into the dream in which I lived vicariously through Thomas Ian Nicholas as Henry Rowengartner.
We’ve all had the dream, right? That you wake up one day and you suddenly have a super power. Whether that be the ability to fly or throw the high stinky cheese is going to vary person to person. For me, I was a small kid. My stature took away my chances to play most sports growing up. Even Pop Warner would have squashed me. So baseball it was! I missed the tee-ball phase and didn’t start playing until I was seven, the first year in my town that coaches pitched to you.
I was afraid of the ball. Getting hit by a small object humming at you at high velocity is something nobody wants to experience. But six year old me saw it as an inevitability. Even though I was already having dreams of being Roger Clemens, I was terrified of being on the other end of one of those pitches. Or not getting my glove up in time while fielding a line drive.
A change is gonna come
Rookie of the Year changed all of that for me. Okay fine, it didn’t eradicate my fears, but it certainly helped me to face them. And made me hope that a niggling injury to my knee would give me super speed, or breaking my arm while catching a fly ball would give me the arm of The Rocket.
Being from Boston, I could relate to a kid being from a city that followed an historic franchise who hadn’t won anything in even my grandfather’s lifetime. Granted I didn’t yet know the extent of the heartache because my attention span was that of a seven year old boy…non-existent. You know, because I was a seven year old boy.
Daniel Stern did a great job moving from breaking into wealthy homes around Christmas time to bringing a young firearm to life in that same city. I was entranced by this story. If you didn’t yell “Pitcher’s got a big butt!” over and over from the base pads did you even baseball?
Looking back, likely the only thing about this story that I would like to omit would be the fact that Gary Busey was involved. Don’t get me wrong, Chet Steadman was a hero, but Gary Busey? Yeesh.
Where was I?
Okay, I’m talking in circles now. The point is…I, like many kids, wanted to be a baseball player. While the story of Rookie of the Year is wholly unrealistic, it still lights a fire under me to follow a dream and put in the work to get there. Henry found himself in extraordinary circumstances and got to live out his dream of pitching for the Chicago Cubs before breaking out in his first zit.
Following those dreams is complicated. Anyone who says work hard and you’ll achieve your goals neglects to mention the trials and tribulations you’re likely to experience on that road. Your mom’s boyfriend may trick her into signing papers that sell your contract to the New York Yankees. Maybe that leads to their breakup, and continues the narrative of getting to the point that it’s the bottom of the 9th, full count, bases loaded, and you’re one strike away from being a champion. Who can know, really?
I wanted to pitch so badly. And, in Little League, I was actually pretty good at it. My fastball was a balmy 48 MPH, but I somehow could place the ball like Greg Maddux. Being on the mound was as close to a religious experience I had as a kid, until I had my first lead in a play. By the time I was Henry’s age, I was playing for the Cardinals and modeled my windup after Pedro Martinez.
I may never have gotten my chance to play for the Red Sox, or grind out a few tough years barely playing in Single A ball (which, let’s be real, would have been way closer to my reality), but that’s ok. Never have I ever been a professional baseball player. Maybe one of these days I’ll play one on TV.
- / 23 hours ago
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