The Baseball Obsessed Pre-Schooler


An except from Twirling Naked in the Streets and No-One Noticed…

 

“I don’t have any narrowly focused special interests, no all-consuming obsessions—not during childhood.”

I protested my diagnosis, but only for a moment.

     I knew all the players; I knew their numbers.

I knew the line-up; I knew all the stats.

I knew the TV airtimes; I didn’t miss a game.

I knew the route to Copperstown, NY, where the Baseball Hall of Fame is located, although, we never made the trip. I had a map.

Baseball was my obsession. I was four years old.

During “practice,” the times that my father and I played ball in the driveway, I was coached by one of my three baseball men. Dad and I threw the ball back and forth.  When I threw to him I was pitching and Catfish was right there telling me how to stand, where to look, and how to lift up my leg like he does on the mound at the stadium.

When Dad threw the ball to me, I was a catcher. I did not stand up straight like other children did to catch the ball. I crouched down as per instructed by Thurmon. I positioned my glove between my legs, adjusted my imaginary face place, and prepared to catch the ball.  I was extraordinarily talented according to my “coaches,” my “friends.” I was not a modest child.

Since I needed pitching and catching coaches, it makes sense that I chose a batter from the team to coach me when it was my turn to hit.  Reggie taught me how to stand with my feet squarely facing home plate, where to position my hands on the bat, and continually reminded me to keep my eye on the ball.

I wonder what my father’s role in all our baseball playing was.  Did he know he was just the guy who needed to throw that ball to me, catch when I pitched it back, and run after the balls I hit with the bat like Lou Piniella did in the outfield—or like Graig Nettles, number 9, on third base? My coaches taught me everything I needed to know about baseball—at least in my mind they did.

In return for all their help, my three baseball men accompanied us on family outings, ate dinner with us, and I often was reported making them hot dogs for lunch. This is also when my extensive baseball card collection began, Yankees only of course.

1979 was a sad year for baseball. Thurmon Munson died in plane crash, and Catfish Hunter retired. Two of my three baseball men were gone. My imaginary friends did not outlive their physical lives, or the Yankee baseball careers for that matter.  But—1979 was the year the Yankees picked up Dave Righetti.

Dave Righetti; number 19.

Righetti started pitching for the NY Yankees in 1979, and although he did not become one of my imaginary friends, he rapidly became my favorite player.  In 1981, Dave Righetti was assigned number 19, the day of my birth, thus started my lifelong obsession with the number 19.

I was wrong. I did have special interests and all-consuming obsessions even when I was very young.

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14 thoughts on “The Baseball Obsessed Pre-Schooler

  1. THRILLED to see you blogging your book! And I suspect that there will be many people (both in the autistic and non-autistic world) who will appreciate your insights. BEST of luck to you, Aspie Writer!

  2. Pingback: What’s so Special About a Special Interest? | Musings of an Aspie

  3. I’m really enjoying your book posts. I was raised a Yankees fan too and loved both Thurmon Munson and Catfish Hunter (was well as Guidry). I had all of Munson’s baseball cards and used to go back and forth on whether to keep them with the rest of their proper year’s cards or showcase them in their own sleeves in chronological order. 🙂

    • Sometimes I miss my baseball men, and those days of throwing the ball around. I have three boys, and none them like baseball more, nor does my husband. I bet if I had a girl,she would love baseball too.

  4. First, I have to admit I am a Pirates fan. My whole family is from Pittsburgh.
    Second, I remember the things you referred to in 1979. I was shocked when I heard about Thurman Munson.

    My “focus” has always been numbers and patterns. That and learning something about everything. I don’t like not knowing at least what something is. A friend of mine once commented that, while I might not know everything about everything, I knew a whole lot about a whole lot.

    This is why I am SO envious of the characters Charlie Epps (NUMB3RS) and Spencer Reed (Criminal Minds). Even though I know they’re fictitious characters, I get so frustrated that my brain doesn’t do what theirs do.

  5. Pingback: Focusing on Special Interests | Aspie Writer

  6. I watch car races on TV and I love NASCAR. I had a sporty phase in my late elementary years, car races and baseball mainly. I liked baseball books then. I could become a NASCAR writer since I took technical writing. Once, I sent a blog post to Skirts and Scuffs. If they replied, it went to spam and I lost it. I also like music and go through times I read about autistic stuff. I write NASCAR and music fanfics as well as Asperger stuff on my blog. The Aspie blogging I do when it’s NASCAR offseason, like now. When it’s the season, I write about than in my blog.

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