He knows too much - Shawn Loughlin editorial
For most of my youth (which I feel I can now officially say, as a 40-year-old), I played pretty competitive baseball as a member of a team whose members remained pretty consistent from season to season. We won two provincial championships during my time there and made it to the finals a handful of other times. Basically, I can’t remember a season with the Pickering Pirates that we didn’t represent Durham Region at the end-of-season provincial competition.
Over that time, we got to know each other very well and I’m still friends with a lot of my teammates today. During our playing days, we knew just about everything about each other when it came to baseball. We knew which pitches players could hit and which ones they couldn’t, their strengths and weaknesses in the field and, basically, what to expect from a player on a game-to-game basis.
Those are the kinds of relationships that make a team great. However, when, for one reason or another, you and your beloved teammates find yourselves playing against each other, all that information you’ve learned over the years can come in pretty handy.
I played for my high school varsity baseball team at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School in Pickering and was just one of a few Pirates who went to that school. The majority of my teammates went to either of the two public high schools in the city, so we would end up facing each other from time to time.
An at-bat I had during one of those games will always stick out in my mind. I was facing Mike Minarik, who’s still one of my good friends. He was one of the Pirates’ best pitchers, thanks at least in part to his devastating knuckleball. Not only could he float in a slow wonky knuckleball, throwing batters off-balance, but he could also throw it quite hard, which completely transformed its effect.
That pitch was the ace of all aces up his sleeve. But, as a left-handed hitter, I knew I’d never see it. From my time on the Pirates, I knew Mike wouldn’t throw his knuckleball to lefties because it would tend to run in on them and, more often than not, hit them.
So, I kept fouling off everything Mike threw me. I made him throw over a dozen pitches and then, finally, he threw me a knuckleball and made me look like I’d learned about baseball that morning over breakfast. He knew that never in a million years would I be expecting that pitch. He kept it over the plate and didn’t hit me and he struck me out.
I always think of that at-bat when I catch A League of Their Own on T.V. There’s that great scene where Dottie is playing against her sister Kit and she walks out to the mound to tell the pitcher about Kit’s fatal flaw: she can’t resist high fastballs, but she can’t hit them either.
Maybe that’s why people will always be a bit closed off with others at times, never wanting to reveal too much of their true selves to anyone else. You never know how that information might come back to bite you. Of course, sometimes you can use that type of information to your advantage, like the time a teammate and I tried to fix a house league game with a Pirate playing on another team, but I suppose that’s a story for a different day. (We kind of reverse-engineered it all, resulting in my friend throwing me a fastball right where I liked it - I think that ball might still be rolling through a Pickering subdivision.)
I'm not sure if there’s a proper moral to this story, but watch whom you share your deepest hopes and fears with, you never know when they might get thrown back at you... like a knuckleball you stand no chance of hitting.