It’s great to be back home in Lexington, Kentucky. The Hustlers recently completed a five game road trip that took us to three different cities in Ohio; Lima, Newark, and Xenia. It gave us a chance to see what life might be like for a professional ball player on the road.
Playing at Lexington Catholic has gotten me used to playing on the smooth surface of turf compared to the natural grass fields in Lima and Licking County (Newark). One difference with turf is that it plays much faster than grass and ground balls are capable of quickly turning into doubles. Another difference with turf is that you don’t need to water grass to keep it green or the infield dirt to keep the field soft and there are always “true” hops. The field in Lima in contrast was very hard which made fielding interesting since the ball could take any number of tricky hops.
Playing five games on the road also made me realize how nice it is to play in front of your home fans. As the level of competition rises in baseball, fans start to become more and more a part of the game and will say any number of things to you in an effort to distract you from the game. It’s all a part of the game to me now and something that players have to learn to cope with and rise above. It also makes it easier for me to understand how home field advantage really becomes an advantage to many major league teams when they welcome other teams to their stadiums and they face thousands of hostile fans.
Monday was also the Fourth of July and speaking of coming home, it made me think about all of the troops overseas still risking their lives for us to be able to continue to live our way of life, which includes summer ball. During the seventh inning stretch in Xenia, we stood there listening to the Star Spangled Banner instead of the traditional Take Me Out to the Ball Game, and I thought about how many kids my own age were overseas and how lucky I am to get to play baseball. It helped me to put things in perspective, that I’m thankful to be in the USA and just to have this opportunity that so many of my classmates are fighting for. As a man from Xenia put it, “there are plenty of people who would like to trade places with us and enjoy the opportunity that we have.”