One of the nice things about high school reunions is that you can ask questions of fellow students that you’ve always wondered about. Of course, you can also settle scores and collect old debts. At the 45th reunion, I just had to find Sid Cash to ask him a question I’d wondered about for several years.
If you’ve been flipping channels during the last two weeks watching the Rio Olympics, you may have passed over ESPN which has been showing the Little League World Series (LLWS). Anyone who ever coached little league (I did for 3 years with my sons) can get pulled in by these games. You can just ‘feel’ for the players and coaches as the games proceed.
With that said, I have utmost respect for Sid Cash’s coaching in the course of taking the 2005 Maitland Little League team to the LLWS in Williamsport, PA. It’s difficult enough just handling tweenagers, much less coaching them to near perfection. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story, do a Google search, or perhaps some class members can provide some good links to the story.
I watched all of the games that Maitland played that year at the LLWS, but there was one crucial moment that I always wondered about. The Maitland team was in the field. Their opponents had a man on 3rd base. I’m not exactly clear on the details, but I remember it being crucial that the man on 3rd didn’t score. The Maitland pitcher threw a wild pitch – 10 feet over the catcher’s head. We’re doomed, I thought. This is the perfect situation for someone on 3rd to steal home. Little League fields are so small that just about any player could make it.
The wild pitch bounced off of a large painted plywood sign hanging on the backstop. It bounced right back to the catcher who hadn’t moved, and he tagged out the runner from 3rd. Planned or accident? Wild pitch or carefully engineered carom? I wanted to know. So, I asked Sid at the 45th reunion. Wouldn’t you like to know too?
The following year, the sign had been removed at Williamsport. It was just the traditional chain link fence. In subsequent years, two smaller signs have appeared – placed to the far left and far right of the catcher’s location. And this year, I believe I saw padding as a backstop. No more bouncing balls off the backstop. Oh, Sid’s answer?
“We practiced that play every day.”