As those of you who are familiar with me know, I am currently playing baseball for my high school legion team. Overall, it's been a rewarding and enjoyful experience, culminating with me making varsity this summer. However, there are the bad times and the good times to everything, and this is one of those embarassing experiences. Hope you get a good laugh out of this.

Disclaimer: The following event is 100% fact

My teammates are snickering at me from the bench. I'm the youngest guy on the team, so I get a lot of crap from the older guys. Their latest passtime is trying to get me to "come out of the closet." FYI: There is no closet. I'm straight (I hope). Anyway, down to business.

I step into the batter's box, get set, and await the next pitch. The pitcher is a tall, lanky right-hander - just the kind of pitcher I like. But it doesn't matter. I have the take sign. The ball whizzes on right under my hands, ball one. Aw nuts! That means I have to take again, since I'm supposed to take until I get a strike. A second time the ball speeds in - this time it's a strike down the middle. Good. That means I can swing at the next pitch.

The pitcher gets his signs from the catcher. Then he shifts his hands around in his glove, obviously changing his grip. Well good. That means there's an off speed pitch coming. I can feel the anticipation in every bone of my body. The lanky hurler, winds, throws, and just as I suspected, a curve ball on the inside corner. The pitch looks as big as a watermelon. Remembering to keep my wait back, I tense, coil, and explode! I hit the ball.....

.....Right off of my shoe and into my groin. I do have a cup on, but cups only protect getting hit from the front - not the bottom. Which meant cup got jarred up against one of my more sensitive areas. It hurts. I keel over in pain. More snickers from the blasted dugout. I step out of the batter's box, and begin walking around, trying to soothe the burning in my nether regions.

But my humiliation doesn't end here. My coach serenly walks over and tells me to lie down. A little mystified, but knowing that refusal will probably "get my ass run," I comply. The coach promptly lifts my legs over my head, putting me in the fetal position, and starts to move my legs back and forth. Now, this did start to ease the pain, but that's beside the point. From a certain angle - no, from any angle, I suppose you can imagine how wrong that looked.

The snickers in the dugout have turned into outright hysterics. The taunts coming from the bench are becoming so vulgar that I doubt they are appropriate for this website. Even the people in the stands are laughing. And those are parents. I would rather have had a baseball in my nuts than listen to that. I close my eyes and go to my special place to escape the mortification.

After a minute or so, my coach stops. Although it was humiliating, the aching is gone. I step back into the batters box and whiff on the next two pitches, then head towards the dugout prepared for the worst.....

Much more serious, but equally relevant to the node title, and personally relevant to me.

Below's part of an AP story from July 2000:

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - University of Arizona sophomore infielder Kelsey Osburn died Monday, six days after being hit in the head by a batted ball during batting practice.

Osburn, 20, died at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, a hospital spokesman said.

Osburn was playing for the Newark Raptors of the Northeast Collegiate Baseball League. He was running the bases without a helmet during batting practice on June 11 when he was struck in the right temple. He was taken to a local hospital, then airlifted the 35 miles from Newark to Strong Memorial Hospital where he underwent brain surgery. He had been in a coma since the operation.

A very unfortunate incident, but personally traumatic for me. You see, the summer earlier, I was director of public relations for the same Newark Raptors. I often walked on the same field during batting practice to talk to players doing their stretches or ask the coach for a lineup, so I could give it to the press box. Baseballs would often casually fly a few feet from me, some hit rather hard, but this was normal. I always kept an eye on the guy hitting, just to be safe.

But how easy would it have been for me to get caught up in a conversation with a player? To relax and not be on guard? Could this have happened to me in 1999?

This sort of thing happens EXTREMELY rarely in any sports. It's just a freak accident. But still, I was there the year earlier. While I didn't know Kelsey (he wasn't on the team in 1999), I knew many of his teammates.

And how easily could that have been me? Many say that sports lead people to religion. I can believe that now. I was 500 miles away when Kelsey Osburn got hit with a ball. Yet, it will always be the most traumatic baseball experience of my life.

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