My Top Ten Moments as an Athlete

This will probably be interesting to no one but me, but I thought it would be fun.

The Honorable Mentions:

The 400-foot Out – In Little League we had an opportunity to play at then P&C Stadium, the home of the AAA Syracuse Chiefs.  I was in the middle of an experiment where I’d swing at every first pitch that was a strike until I got a ball.  (I went 5/10 doing this.)  I got a low fastball down the middle and connected with probably the most perfectly hit ball I’d ever hit.  Unfortunately I was playing in a pro stadium and not a Little League field.  I hit it straight at the 408 sign in left-center and the center fielder, playing deep, caught it on the edge of the warning track.

Crushed ball off Lyncourt pitcher – This was the moment, in my final season, where I finally became a good hitter, I think.  The opposing pitcher was throwing hard, probably mid-eighties, but all fastballs, and not really varying location.  After seeing him for a few innings (and hating pitchers that could throw heat and nothing else), I said ‘fuck this guy’ and stepped up ready to go on the first pitch.  I swung as hard as I could and absolutely labeled it.  Too bad it never got more than eight feet off the ground.  It was by the shortstop before he even reacted and went for a double, dying in the long outfield grass.

No-Hits Fowler – My one and only high school start (I was a reliever), I threw four innings of no-hit ball.  Honestly, it was one of my worst pitching performances.  It would have been a no-hitter in tee-ball.  We won that game 12-0.

Hockey Championship #2 – It’s not quite as special the second time.  We entered the playoffs as the 3-seed, attendance issues causing three losses during the regular season.  None of the playoff games were close as we won 11-7, 12-4, and 11-4.  I had a hat trick in the semifinal game and six goals overall despite playing with a sprained and heavily taped right thumb.

The 290 Game – Would have been nice if it were sanctioned, but one day in solo practice I rolled a 9-spare followed by 11 consecutive strikes.  I picked up the 12th in a row in the first frame of the next game.

The 32 goal season – Surprised this missed the list, but a lot of team achievements jumped it.  That team went 1-17-0 that season and only scored 77 goals.  I had 32 of them (and 19 assists).

Little League team scores two upsets – Entering the playoffs when I was 9 years old, we were the eighth seed of 10 teams.  I forget how the playoff bracket worked, but we matched up against the 4th best team in the league in the first round for some reason, defeating them by a run.  We then met the 2nd best team, who’d crushed us in the regular season.  We jumped out to an 8-0 lead and held on for a 10-5 victory.  We lost the championship but it was later discovered that team cheated (by their coach telling players to sandbag tryouts so he could draft them in later rounds).  So technical champions?  We did’t get trophies.

The List

#10. Steals home

It was a semi-final playoff game and we were down 3-1, finding little luck against a solid pitcher.  I found myself alone on third and was taking massive secondary leads as the pitcher was pitching from the wind-up, essentially daring him or the catcher to make a throw.  Eventually I just took off, without telling anyone.  The pitcher about shat himself as he saw me heading home and threw the pitch outside.  I slid in before the tag but it was so unexpected the umpire wasn’t watching and called me out.  The pitcher strained a muscle on the play and left the game.  We won 9-3.

#9. Tallies 3 goals, one assist in final 4:32 for one-goal victory

This was the first moment I realized I could be a goal-scorer.  I had only scored 4 and 6 goals my first two seasons of hockey and at this point in my third had already surpassed my season high.  Still, I felt like it was a bit fluky.  I remembered calling timeout with 4:32 left with us down 8-5.  I was frustrated because I’d been held scoreless to that point.  I put my first goal in far-side streaking down the right wing, my second cleaning up a rebound, and my third on a two on one.  With 26 seconds left, I thought we were headed to overtime.  I drew a tripping call on the ensuing faceoff, won the next faceoff and the final shot of the game found the back of the net for a 9-8 victory.

#8. The six-goal game

I still remember each goal.  #1, skating down the left wing, waiting for the defender to slide out of position and taking a point-blank shot. #2 and #3 receiving passes on 2 on 1s where I’d gotten lost behind the D.  #4 a great breakout pass that I received through my legs that sprung a breakaway.  #5, picking up a puck the D had mishandled and scoring on another breakaway.  And #6, my personal favorite, dumping a puck from behind my own net that the opposing goalie whiffed on, allowing it to slide into the back of the net.  Final score, 10-6 us.

#7. Fewest goals allowed two years in a row

When I moved out to Washington I switched from playing center to defense.  I take more pride in team accomplishments and allowing fewer goals has always been my top priority as a defender.  It is something, I think, that not many rec. players think about.  Our two championship seasons we led the league in goals allowed, with a paltry 48 in 11 games the first season, and 74 in 12 the second.  The closest teams both seasons were eight goals away.  At the other end we were third, and second in goals scored respectively.

#6. Bowling League Championship

Not expected to be much of a factor in preseason rankings, (most had us between 3rd and 5th in the eight-team league) my High School bowling team surged to a three-way tie for League Champions, winning on tiebreakers.

#5. Career high bowling series in first start

On the aforementioned bowling team, I didn’t start much.  The team was good and I was the last person to make the cut.  Still, in an important match against an opponent that was no slouch as we were vying for a league title, my number got called.  I responded by bowling a career high and my first ever 600 series, a 202, 198, 200 set.

#4. Three-hit Northeast

This was the game after the one in which I stole home and we were playing for a spot in the championship.  Northeast had finished 2nd in the league to our third.  They’d beaten us 12-1 in the first game, but we’d won 2-0 in the second, a game in which I’d also started.  I didn’t like this team.  I thought they were dicks in the blowout and a couple guys leaned into pitches to take bases.  So I made it my personal mission to shut them down.  I pitched with a cold, calculating determination and was locked in for the entire game.  I didn’t even notice that I was no-hitting them late in the game until I mused ‘hey, they finally hit a ball out of the infield’ late in the fifth inning.  Yeah, I was pitching so good it took them some 15-20 batters to even get a ball out of the infield.  We won that game 9-1, my seventh complete game of the season and ninth win, advanced our record to 13-5, and our team to the championship.

#3. Wins sectional championship

In 2004, my senior year of high school, I decided to try out for the high school baseball team.  I made the team as a pitcher, beating out several players who’d been in the system for years.  I started the season fifth or sixth on the pitching depth chart and an innings-eater and ended it third and the top reliever.  I only pitched once in the playoffs, getting us out of trouble in a close semifinal game, but I was warming up in the bullpen for all three games.

The championship game came against our rivals who’d beaten us 6-4 during the regular season to take the league crown, a game we thought was lucky.  Our average score was 18-3 and we had four batters in the top ten in the league in batting average, and two batters batting above .700.  Their pitcher was solid, but notoriously thin-skinned and we laid into him early from the dugout, coaxing him into an error on a ground ball to the mound, something that should stop happening your first year of Little League.  We jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held on for a fitting 6-4 win.

#2. Wins hockey championship

I had never been on a successful hockey team, so it was a nice change of pace to jump out to a 5-0-0 record.  Right away we dominated, with three solid defenders committed to shutting down opportunities, a rarity in rec. play where everyone wants to score.  We played a possession-heavy game and rolled through the playoffs, allowing a total of 6 goals in three games.  Our second playoff game was the best I’ve played, holding a 5-0 lead most of the game and our team dominating shots, 30-10 at one point.

#1. Wins Little League championship

There are loftier titles on this list, but I played Little League for thirteen years.  For 10 of those I never won a championship.  Year 11 was different.  We dominated the league, boasting four pitchers better than anyone else’s ace, including myself.  Opposing teams batted around .120 against us and .079 against me specifically.  We went 5-0 against the second place team and finished the only team with a winning record (11-2).

The season started a little rocky.  The second place team’s coach was a bit of a pompous know-it-all, though overall a good guy.  He called his number one draft pick the best player in the league.  That guy hit a double off me the first pitch of the season and it looked like we were in for it.  We won that game 8-7 and I struck that player out in every other matchup against him save for one, a groundout.  I never intended it to be this way, but the season was rife with me killing that team.  There was the game we led 6-4 with two outs late and a runner of theirs, a school ball player, on second.  The next batter hit a single to deep center and the coach waved the runner around third.  I threw him out at the plate form about 200 feet by thirty feet.  Final score 9-4.  There was the game they pitched their school ace against us.  I wound up on second and watching the exchange, stole third on a delayed steal.  The next pitch was a passed-ball and I scored an insurance run while pitching a complete game shutout.  Final score, 2-0.

Then there was the championship.  I had pitched most of the semifinal game the week before so I had limited innings of availability.  I came in with a 5-3 lead and runners on second and third with some number of outs.  The next batter hit one off the fence and the game was tied.  I came up second the next inning, the bottom of the last, with our first batter standing on third.  I can only imagine the thoughts of the opposing coach as there I was again, featuring in a key moment with the season on the line.  I punched a single up the middle, the run scored, and we won 6-5.

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About Alex

I am awesome.

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