My 11 year old son, Matt has been playing recreational baseball since he was 5 and tournament/travel since he was 8.
When he was 9, Santa Claus brought him a brand new orange/blue Easton Stealth bat. He instantly fell in love with it and couldn’t wait to get into winter training with it. It took him no time at all to break in that bat. He was cranking off hits the moment he swung. He had found his perfect bat.
By the time rec season had started in late March of 2009, the bat was fully broken in and ready for actual game play. Matt lit up rec from the get go. He hit everything that was pitched to him. His fellow teammates took note and were all under the notion that if they too used Matt’s bat they’d hit as well as him. Matt is by no means the best hitter to ever grace youth baseball but what most of the kids didn’t realize was that Matt had great hand/eye coordination and a quick swing. But Matt being a sweet child, let any of his teammates who wanted to use the bat, do so. And most did. But there was one kid in particular who had some social issues and wasn’t very pleasant to the other players, including mine. Now I know no child is perfect and mine certainly isn’t rocking a halo over his head, but the kid in question was a whole different story. My husband who was the coach did his best to keep things copacetic and for the most part did a great job of it. That was until one day during a pre-game batting cage warm-up. That kid decided to grab Matt’s bat and proceeded to slam it against a wood pylon. This act was witnessed by Matt and another player on the team, but neither said anything about it.
When the incident was over, Matt got the bat back. And at the time Matt was unaware that any physical damage had been done. But come game time when Matt was up at the plate, he swung and when the ball made contact with the bat, it made a strange funky sound. The coaches on both teams heard it and inspected the bat. And what they found was an inch sized crack in the barrel.
The devastated expression on my son’s face was one I will never forget. He was upset and immediately blamed the kid who had slammed the bat. Now the kid claimed that he hadn’t touched it before Matt batted and technically he didn’t. No one saw him near Matt’s things. However, after the game was over Matt and the other witness informed us of the pre-game incident. And without any doubt, we knew what the cause of the crack was. My husband talked to the parents of the said child and of course the kid denied it. Until he finally fessed up and claimed he didn’t mean any harm. *rolls eyes*
Matt recalled the kid saying during the beat down on the pylon(quote): “What is this bat made of…plastic?” Which believe me, I can attest, the $250 price tag on that bat proved otherwise, but I digress. Matt was so distraught that he actually slept with the bat.
The other issue was Matt had his 1st tournament of the season starting a day and a half later and would be without his beloved bat. So we searched high and low for another one. But had zero luck finding the same exact bat. My husband tried to order one that was similar but even with express shipping, there was no guarantee it would arrive in time. Matt would have to use a teammate’s bat for the time being. We were concerned that the bat issue was going to affect him psychologically and sadly it did. He was way off when he got up to the plate. He was always a consistent hitter and rarely struck out but his spirits were broken. He struck out the first 3 times he was up and it was heartbreaking to watch.
After one of the games we had a short break, so we killed time at a local Modell’s Sporting Goods store. And to our surprise we found the exact same orange Easton Stealth. It cost a pretty penny but the smile on Matt’s face was well worth it. However, the elation was short-lived as we quickly realized that though the bat looked the same, no two are exactly alike. Plus the original had been well used and broken in (no pun intended). That one just didn’t measure up. He did hit a little better but he just wasn’t the same batter. And it didn’t matter how much everyone tried to convince him that it’s the hitter not the bat itself, he couldn’t get out of his funk.
The parents of the kid who broke the bat offered to pay for Matt’s new one. Of course they had no idea how expensive the bat was, so we graciously took a fraction of the cost from them. That was more my husband’s generosity, I on the other hand wasn’t so forgiving and felt they should have paid for the whole thing. But whatever, its water under the bridge now and done with.
I will state that Matt is MUCH more careful now on not letting others use his bat or any of his baseball equipment for that matter. We have invested a lot of money in baseball. He plays all year round whether it be rec games, tournaments or training. I can’t even calculate how much we’ve spent in bats, gloves, cleats…etc. So believe me when I say, we make sure Matt’s stuff is only used by him…lesson learned.