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Psychology Is A Big Part Of Baseball
The National Adult Baseball Association Ventura Angels
How to intimidate batters before they'd even step up to the plate
So, I had acquired “a rep” as being a mean pithicher. That was good because it all worked to my advantage. I was the guy you loved to have on your side but hated my guts if you had to oppose me.
Getting Hit By The Ball Is What Scares You
It started in Little League, then continued in high school and then in semi-pro Open League in the National Adult Baseball Association. The N.A.B.A. was great because you didn’t have to play everyone and you could cut anyone from the team at anytime.
Any team in Ventura County could have me play for them as long as they paid my entry fee, team fee, insurance, umpires fees, uniform and equipment fees plus all the free beer I could drink after the game.
You sign contracts and one time I was actually traded for two players and two dozen baseballs. I could throw a baseball hard, fast and "into a teacup," as they say. Or, in other words, where ever I wanted the ball to go until I was always the oldest guy on the field by five or six years as compared to the next oldest player.
At 6' 6" 210 lbs I'll admit I was a bit imposing to face in the batter's box. One time a batter wouldn't stop verbally abusing me as he stood about ten feet outside the batter’s box timing my pitches while I warmed up between innings. So the last warm up pitch, I just let it fly and nailed him right in his ribs. He looked at me in shock. Then I said loudly for all to hear, “Whoops!” and smiled broadly. Then he proceeded to feebly struck out.
If a batter ever hit a homer off me (eh, it happens) I’d hit him with a pitch next time up. Every time. After a while everyone knew my usual way to deal with a home run hitter. It's not ever going to happen again. You could get away with this kind of stuff back then and not be thrown out of the game. It was just acceptable behavior and a "part of the game" of hard nosed baseball.
A Reputation Is Established
When a long time teammate of mine was playing on another team against me, he hit this long homer off me. I just stood there and admired the ball's slow trajectory. He jogged swiftly and silently around the bases with his head down the entire time.
When we crossed paths while passing each other on the field after the inning, I whispered to him, “You know what’s comin’, right?” He forlornly mumbled, “Yeah.” He was a big guy, too! Next time up, BAM!, right in the numbers. He just stood there staring at me for a second, sighed, then jogged to first base. Every player on the field and in both dugouts just looked at me in disbelief at what had just happened. Then we all had beers afterwards.
Famous Reputations In The Major Leagues
One guy who led the Major Leagues in hit batsmen year after year was Hall Of Fame Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale. He was 6’ 7” 240 lbs and just plain looked mean throwing from a semi-sidearm delivery.When a reporter asked Henry Aaron who was the scariest pitcher he'd ever faced, without hesitation he said Drysdale. “The Hammer’s” lifetime batting average was terrible against him.
They said Drysdale would “brush back” his own grandmother. When he heard of this and was asked about it, he didn’t hesitate and said, “Sure, if she was crowding the plate.” I patterned myself after Bob Gibson. Same windup, same hat sitting low on his head so the eyes are barely visible, same intimidation. He literally HATED opponent (no, ENEMY) batters and proudly said so publicly.
Reggie Jackson said he saw him in a store before that night’s game. “Jax” said he was quite put off by his indifference and rudeness towards him. First time up against Gibson that night, as Jackson recounted, “Right at the ol’ coconut!”
Using My Resources: My Mind And The Ball
Once, a base runner on second would not let up on his "chirping" at me as I was on the mound. My shortstop swiftly moved in behind him to pick him off because this base runner was so caught up in yelling at me that he wasn’t paying attention as he slipped in there. I had him so “hung out to dry” but instead of throwing to my shortstop covering second, I just swiftly turned and nailed this guy right in his solar plexus.
He was stunned, had the wind knocked out of him and collapsed right there. My shortstop just slowly picked the ball up and tagged him out. The umpire knew me too well as he stood behind me. He just shook his head, sighed and whispered to me in a shameful voice, “Miller!”
I remember playing in a north-south Ventura County all-star NABA baseball game in Santa Paula. We'd all competed against each other throughout the year so we all knew each other. A month earlier I'd broken up this guy's no-hittter in the 8th inning with a lucky shot that bounced over the third baseman's head. I asked him before the game if he'd remembered me. Oh yeah, he sure did, he said. My first time up, first pich, he plucked me right in the ribs.
So, while pitching later in that same game, there were two outs and first base was open with the clean-up hitter at the plate. My catcher stood up signaling for an intentional walk. Why waste my arm? I just nailed the guy right between the numbers on his back. Hey, one pitch versus four saves the ol' arm.
Dan W. Miller on Sunday, 29 January 2012
Dan was winning pitcher and named MVP of the National Adult Baseball Association Ventura County All-Star game at Moorpark College in 1996 AT AGE 36. On the other hand, he was also traded from the NABA Ventura Angels to the Simi Valley Indians for two dozen brand new baseballs in 1994. He's actually a nice guy who just loves to play the villan.
Too old to play but I continue my psychological application when I umpire (over 1,000 sanctioned games!) https://www.facebook.com/arizonaumpires
From 8 until 38 baseball was fun
Playing and then getting payed
Many NABA games were played at old Ventura High School.
Paid to play baseball!
Pictures of the author in different uniforms on different teams.