When something becomes old, give it to someone, and it becomes new again.
This photo above is a drop 3 bat that was given to my boy from my buddy and BYB Senior Writer Steve Skinner. Not sure if you remember, but a while back we wrote a piece here on BYB titled PASSING ON DREAMS. It was very popular, probably because of the human element of kindness displayed by Steve.
In a nutshell, the piece was about Steve's kids growing up, and in the process, Skinner wanted to pass on his kid's equipment to someone who could use it. My oldest son was the recipient of some of that gear, but we donated some as well...
"This is one set of catching equipment. I've used it for 3 seasons for
my personal team. It's been a staple for them. The catching helmet fits
perfectly, and for 6th graders, the shin guards are perfect as well.
In fact, there have been games where my kids prefer our helmet over the
town donation. "Where's our helmet coach?" I remember one of my players asking me in June. I thought, "My god, Steve's gotta know this, he'll love it."
The second set of equipment was donated to a younger group in our
baseball program. My buddy who runs the team does the same thing I
do... making sure the kids are comfy in the equipment. He takes care of
it every season, cleaning it up and making sure all the straps still
work and all of that. The third set is used by my little guys. I'm not
sure if my youngest sons will be catchers, but I have a hunch it will
definitely help them along."
And now we circle back to that drop 3 bat, a bat my son couldn't use until last Fall when he was finally strong enough to swing it swiftly. He used it at batting practice and I'd throw hundreds of balls to him, not only last Fall, but throughout the entire Spring as well. That bat still had a lot of swings in it, and as my kid swung it, he slowly became stronger. The BP was constant, and he learned a lot using that bat. (Read more about his work ethic in GETTING THE WORK IN.)
Well, when the Summer season started, we did what we always do... we went to a field to do some hitting. My son got in the box as I set up the L-screen, and on my first pitch, he crushed one with an unusual 'POP'. The ball, which sounded like it would leave the park barely made it out of the infield. Something didn't sound right even though the swing and mechanics were perfect.
"Dad", my son said.
"Yeah, did you hear that?" I said
"It's dead dad... the bat died," he said, walking it over to me.
It was dead. A huge crack right down the middle of the barrel... a perfect ending to the life of a baseball bat that my buddy Steve's kid used throughout his baseball career. And now, my son did his best to grow with the same bat, and did for a while. We stood on the field alone staring at it. The bat, now broken, in between our huddle was some sort of closure or symbolism. It went full circle.
For many of you, you will not care about this story. But for families with kids in baseball, you understand the grind, and can appreciate it. But this story is mainly for my buddy Steve and his son. It's a thank you note for allowing my kid to learn a helluva lot from that worn out baseball bat. Some nights it was about plate discipline. Other nights it was about getting the bat out late so he could drive it over the third baseman. But on every night... it was about getting stronger, getting smarter at the plate and getting the will and drive to get better at baseball. Much of that lesson came from that baseball bat and our training.
So yeah... in the youth baseball world, we now turn the page to a new bat, and a new chapter.
To Steve and Matt. Thank you for helping my kid grow in this game. If you could see my kid now...