Recently I was at a conference and as I was heading back to my hotel room, a dear friend and colleague asked me if I had running shoes with me. A weird question, but I said yes, and she asked me if I wanted to head out with her to the batting cage for 30 minutes of swinging at balls. Oh, yes, please!
I ran to my hotel room and stripped out of my skirt, dress shoes, dress jacket and dug out a pair of leggings and a tank top, grabbed a pair of socks and my running shoes. I was so excited to do something even a little bit physical
I have not played baseball in over ten years. I don’t think I have even picked up a bat and glove at any point in the last ten years.
There were a couple of options for pitching speeds and balls. We chose a softball pitching at 40 km/hour. I spent my first 20 balls swinging at air. And I still felt a lot of joy just swinging the bat around. My friend was doing better, but was still only hitting about a third of the balls. After a couple of rounds, we decided to move down to the softball pitches at 20 km/hour. At this speed, we each were able to hit 75-85% of the balls.
It was such a joy to feel the power of my bat connecting with the ball and watching it fly away into the air. Several of my hits saw my ball fly over the top of the pitching area and across the batting cage area. I was mesmerized by watching the balls that were missed or hit, or fouled roll down the slightly sloped ball area and spin towards the automated pitching machine.
Equally entertaining were the failed pitches from the pitching machine. Sometimes the ball would spin around through the pitching machine and slam up against the roof of the pitching hut due to a pre-mature release of the ball. Other times the ball would be released a little too late and the ball would go slamming towards the ground halfway in between the pitching machine and the batting area.
For thirty minutes, it was a taste of childhood and a mouthful of stress released with each contact between the bat and the ball. Coming back to Ottawa, I was determined to find a batting cage and make this a date with myself. It took me a bit to find a place that had a pitching machine, where I didn’t need to go with anyone else to pitch to me. I finally found one in Carleton Place and headed out for 30 minutes of unlimited balls. Swing batter batter!
On a weekend morning, I headed out to my car and drove the 20 minutes from my home to the batting cages. On the day that I was there, there were not that many people there on a Sunday morning. I had pre-booked an appointment because I wanted to make sure that I would have the space available for me. The batting cage provides a batting helmet (or you could bring your own), and bats (also, you could bring your own). As with the day out with my friend, it took me a while to get my rhythm together of hitting the balls, but once I started connecting, I had a lot of fun swinging and hitting, swinging and missing. You could adjust the speed and angle of the balls being pitched and that made it easier for me, keeping the pitches at a 20 km/hour pitch and a gentle angle. This was not practice for a return to playing regular baseball – it’s been such a long time – but it felt joyous to play at baseball for a little while. Choose joy wherever possible.
I certainly could have played around with the bats and the balls for more than 30 minutes, but at the end of 30 minutes, I had enough of swinging the bat around. It felt a bit indulgent to have spent more time driving in my car to get to the batting cage, but there aren’t that many self-pitching batting cages around, which kind of surprised me. Although I could have ridden my bike out to Carleton Place – and I have before – but I wasn’t feeling that all that ambitious. In the end, 30 minutes was the right amount of time to spend with myself on this morning.
After hitting my fair share of balls into pop-ups, foul balls, swings and misses, balls that might have been home runs, and balls that would have gotten me on base, I was reading to wrap up my date with myself.
Cost – $39.55 (including taxes) for 30 minutes of unlimited balls, a helmet and a bat; cost of the gas to drive 40 minutes (wasn’t tracking)
Rate: 10/10 – this was a fun and joyful date with myself