Home­runs and mo­ments that stick with you

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer To the Point Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­togra pher with The Com­pass. He was never a power hitter. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca.

It was an un­usual sum­mer night when I con­nected on what would be my only base­ball home­run.

Un­usu­ally chilly for July, my team was trail­ing by five when I stepped to the plate at Ju­bilee Field in Cor­ner Brook with two men on.

Tak­ing a slightly open stance to­wards the first base, I tapped the three corners of home plate and pointed the head of the bat to­wards the pitcher, as was my cus­tom­ary pre-pitch rou­tine. Ad­mit­tedly, I stole it from then-Cleve­land In­di­ans slug­ger Jim Thome.

He used it for in­tim­i­da­tion and I fig­ured my 5’10” pudgy self could do the same. Rarely, did it in­tim­i­date pitch­ers. Usu­ally they’d laugh be­fore feed­ing me a steady diet of curve­balls. They were jerks. He used it for in­tim­i­da­tion and I fig­ured my 5’10” pudgy self could do the same. Rarely, did it in­tim­i­date pitch­ers.

Any­way, the pitch came. I got lucky, re­ally. It was a belt high fast­ball on the in­side cor­ner that came along at just the right speed.

Be­fore I knew it, I was bring­ing my hands through the zone, which was fol­lowed by the bat and con­nect­ing with the ball. Look­ing back, it’s safe to say I got all of it.

But, when it hap­pened I never knew I hit it hard enough to get it out of the ball­park. You swing, the ball goes into the out­field and you put your head down to run.

That’s ex­actly how I re­acted, ex­cept my ball flew out of the field. I didn’t even see it go over the fence.

I heard some­one shout, “Get out of here!” and some­thing hit the chain link fence in right field. That’s it. I was ready to leg out a dou­ble but I got to slow down for a home­run trot.

My dad al­ways en­joyed how Dave Hen­der­son cel­e­brated home­runs. The for­mer MLB out­fielder would strut around the field af­ter hit­ting a bomb. He’d stick both his pointer fin­gers out and move his hands like he was im­i­tat­ing Ric Flair.

That night, dad screamed for me to do “the Parker.” He was los­ing his mind over the home­run. It bor­dered on fa­nat­i­cal.

I al­most passed the run­ner ahead of me, co­in­ci­den­tally my brother, which would have nul­li­fied the round trip­per. He turned around on the third base­line to give me a dou­ble high five.

I wanted no part of it. We could do it at home plate.

There are plenty of those mo­ments grow­ing up play­ing any game. Those bench­mark mo­ments you will never for­get.

It doesn’t mat­ter where you are in life or how old you are. You’ll al­ways re­mem­ber the night you did some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary.

Un­less you’re play­ing some form of high-level base­ball, home­runs are not that plen­ti­ful. There are nights where the ball is fly­ing out, but those are few and far be­tween.

Maybe it’s a game win­ner in bas­ket­ball or hockey. Or a bases clear­ing pinch-hit dou­ble.

Ei­ther way, you don’t for­get the big mo­ments.

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