Arnold Heller – Atlanta, GA
Throw the Damn Sidearm
Four words will forever stay with me that describe my father’s lasting influence on me: Throw the damn sidearm!
I was 11 years old and pitching on the Major League ballfield at Murphy Candler Little League Park. When I started pitching at age 8, you refused to teach me how to throw a curveball as you were afraid it may damage my wrist. Knowing I wanted to do everything possible to overcompensate for my diminutive, 76-pound frame, you taught me how to pitch sidearm with the idea that the twisted throwing motion would help me achieve the extra movement on my fastball that I was looking for when I asked to learn how to throw a curve, as well as being a few mph faster.
And it worked. I was able to throw a one-hitter in Coastal League, and yet still somehow lost that game – but that is another story for another day.
So, there I was, hurling my little heart out on a mound 45 feet from home plate. My coach that year did not approve of me throwing sidearm…I’m not sure why and neither were you.
I will never forget one afternoon, as I was struggling to locate the plate throwing overhand, you started screaming from the bleachers, “Throw the damn sidearm! Throw the damn sidearm!”
Meanwhile, my coach is firing back at you from the dugout, “No! Don’t throw it. Don’t do it.”
Well, I threw the damn sidearm, struck out the side and helped us win the game.
You taught me two important lessons that day: I should never take crap from idiots, and that you will always believe in me. You knew that coach was a moron and that I was a tougher pitcher to hit coming sidearm. You believed in me that I could succeed even when I doubted myself.
I will always be grateful for your influence in my life. You and mom were always there for me and I will always love you.
Happy Father’s Day, Doc! Now, how about a game of catch?