Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Balk (Part I)

Goldie and I made the trek over to Albany, Georgia, on Tuesday evening to visit with the area's top high school pitching prospect, Shawn Bankman, and his family. Not even Goldie could ignore the lefty's intimidating 6'4" 200 lb frame with even more room to grow. His four-seamer in the 89-90 mph range will no doubt get quicker. When I saw him in November, he was throwing from a high three-quarters slot, short stride, with little to no scapula loading. Not a lot of movement from his two-seamer or his slider, but just enough to get a miss or two. Excellent opportunity for improvement. Only one problem. There were ten other scouts watching him. The likelihood of us getting this kid was low. Nevertheless, I introduced myself to his father and maybe called him once over the phone. Both were one-way discussions and never an invitation over to the house.

Goldie, on the other hand, gets the invite without a problem. And he did it with text messaging between him and Shawn. As we pulled up to their farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, there were younger kids running all over the place. When Goldie lowered himself out of his special van, I could see them stopping to stare and whisper. He wheeled himself over the grass and up an old wooden ramp leading to a side door which was really their main entrance through the kitchen.

We were greeted by Shawn, or shall I say, Goldie was greeted by Shawn and I was greeted by Buster, the family's golden retriever who stuck his nose pretty much everywhere from my waist down. Of course, Shawn's mother told the dog to stop but like my children, he didn't listen and I kind of got the feeling that the family enjoyed watching me defend myself and my dignity.

We eventually sat down at the dining room table and waited for Shawn's father to join us. Soon enough, the 6'5" 240 lb third-generation cotton farmer exited the bathroom cracking several jokes about lighting a match and slapping Goldie on the back.


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