There is a promotion that we do in between innings at The K called The Chevy Youth Baseball “Strike Zone” Challenge.
A child (usually 10-12 yrs old) has 3 pitches to throw a ball through a hole which resides in a 4×3 ft wooden cut out of Sluggerrr. The opening, which the ball must travel through, is about 9-12 inches in diameter and the kid throws from about 35 ft away.
Now this challenge is kind of tough. So much so, it had only been conquered one time before. On this particular night, I learned that our contestant was young Brayden. Brayden is 7 years old and he was among the youngest to ever attempt this challenge if not the youngest.
He was very nervous. During the inning before, while practicing, he couldn’t stay back where he needed to throw from. He kept using a “running start” to throw the balls. His dad must have sensed his nervousness because he was on the field at the “Little K” with us. This was a first as parents usually stay out side with the spectators.
3 outs in the real game means it’s game time for us. I explain the rules to Brayden and on his first throw he actually gets kind of close. Second throw… Not so close. Now it’s important to mention that I never expect kids to win this challenge. It’s not easy. I’ve seen adults try it and they have a tough time themselves… that is if they make it at all. Add to that, young Brayden gets only 3 pitches, he has 2 cameras in his face, Sluggerrr jumping up and down all over him, and me screaming in his face. No, not easy at all. After an “unofficial – no pressure – practice shot”, and a brief pep talk from me, Brayden is set to make his final attempt at victory…
Needless to say, he made it. It was amazing. The crowd around the Little K and even around The Big K went nuts. Little Brayden was so surprised/happy/overwhelmed that I thought he was going to cry. His father looked prouder than anything you could ever imagine. It was a genuine, honest to God emotional experience, and it was amazing.
As the game went on several people asked me about Brayden and what had happened at the Little K earlier that evening. One person even remarked, “I bet that kid remembers that for the rest of his life.”
If that’s not reason enough to do it, I don’t know what is.
Although the video doesn’t do justice to the actual moment, here it is: