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Inside Pitch Magazine, Summer 2014

Intentional Walk: The Old Curve Ball

By Sam Riggleman

Pitcher Throwing a Curve Ball"I wanted to be a sportswriter because I loved sports and could not hit the curveball…" Dick Schapp

Hitting a baseball thrown by a skilled pitcher has been described by many athletes as the hardest thing in sports to accomplish. During my 5-year minor league career, I tell people all of the time that my career batting average is .400; three hits in five years! Of course, I was a pitcher, but three hits in five years is my personal testimony that hitting a round baseball traveling over 90 mph squarely with a round bat is very difficult.

Then, there is the curveball, i.e. "the hammer," uncle Charlie, "the yacker," or if you happened to be Nolan Ryan, Bert Blyleven, Camilo Pasqual, Gregg Olson or Sandy Koufax, it was called the "yellow hammer." For the average hitter, the "yellow hammer" is not only impossible to hit, but causes those who have faced them to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat.

If professional hitters could face an 88 mph fastball about belt high, their batting averages would probably be well over .500, but with blazing fastballs and curves coming at them, most hitters are fortunate to hit over .280. The truth is, when a hitter gets in to that batter's box, facing a pitcher with a live fastball and a late breaking curveball, he is all alone. There is no one there to block for him, or set a screen for him or to give him an assist. It's just the bat, the umpire and a grimacing, competitive pitcher looking like he may take your head off.

Living life is many times similar to facing a major league pitcher. If there were no accidents, illnesses, death, or sin, life would be pretty sweet. But there are many "curve balls," even "yellow hammers," thrown at us in life. It's easy to get discouraged sometimes. I have good news; unlike hitters facing a pitcher, we are not alone! God goes through every challenge with us.

Recently, my wife, Sharon, had an accident in our garage. She fell from a three foot landing and broke her heel. It was a tough injury requiring surgery and now she faces several months of being off her left foot. Her summer (our summer) drastically changed in an instant. Life threw her a devastating curve ball. My prayer to God is for healing, patience, strength, courage and grace. During these four weeks, God has been faithful. He is always faithful. We live in an flawed, sin-filled world. Even though God gives us marvelous bodies that many times heal, beautiful scenery, love of family and many other good and perfect gifts, Life can be challenging. One day, Believers will live in perfect peace, have joy beyond compare and have no need for worries of death, illness or accidents. Until that time, I am thankful for a loving God who helps us face life's curves…even the "yellow hammer."

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Psalm 41:10

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.
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