Speed kills majors dream
Hey, batter, batter, batter, swing batter.
Here was my chance to make it to ''The Show'', the big time, Major League Baseball.
If I could hit a few John Holdzkom fastballs, doors would start to open.
Canberra Times reporter David Polkinghorne before facing Cavalry pitcher John Holdzkom. Photo: Graham Tidy
When he's on song, the Canberra Cavalry starting pitcher boasts a fastball of up to 160 km/h so I thought it was a good idea to get him on the mound and see if I could hit him. I mean, how hard could it be?
Thud, his first pitch cannoned into the catcher's mitt before my bat had even moved. A token swing chasing the air left behind it.
After just one pitch my dreams of making it to the majors were starting to fade.
Canberra Times reporter David Polkinghorne gets a taste of what it's like for ABL batters while taking on Cavalry pitcher John Holdzkom. Photo: Graham Tidy
It seems my 39 years of never playing baseball were finally starting to catch up with me.
Now the goal was simply to hit something and avoid the inevitable ribbings in the office that would follow if I failed to get bat on ball.
Holdzkom is really tall - not just tall, but really tall.
He's a whopping six foot, nine inches [2.06 metres] and even taller when standing on the pitching mound - a mound that's less than 19m from the plate.
In less than half a second the ball whizzes past.
The 25-year-old was released by the Cincinnati Reds earlier this year after playing high-A class in the minor leagues and he was hoping his stint with the Cavalry would help get re-signed, but at this stage he's had no offers.
Born and raised in the south-west of the US, Holdzkom qualified for the New Zealand baseball team through his Kiwi dad and played for them at their world baseball classic qualifiers in Taiwan.
At the moment his fastball is peaking at 152km/h, but he went easy on me with his fastest at 136km/h.
When I broached the idea with Holdzkom of facing him, he said: ''Really? My control's not the best.''
As I stared him down from the plate, my mind went back to Sunday when he hit Sydney Blue Sox batter Michael Lysaught with a fastball.
Maybe that's why the Cavalry made me sign a waiver.
He sent down his second rocket and I rocked onto the back foot and smashed it away through point to the boundary.
Then I remembered I wasn't playing cricket and I was meant to keep it between first and second base.
Cavalry catcher Adam Jacobs gave me a bit of coaching - get my right elbow up and ''drop the hammer''.
A few embarrassing curve balls low and away later and I finally got what I was looking for, some heat right up the middle.
I obliged by dropping the hammer and almost dropping the bat as it jarred in my hand, the ball trickling down to first base for what would have been an easy out.
Holdzkom intentionally threw one a few metres over my head just to keep me on my toes.
I was trying not to think about Lysaught getting hit, but truth be told that was my best chance of getting on base.
Before long Holdzkom had had enough of toying with me and needed to save his arm for the Melbourne Aces on Saturday.
All that was left to do was edit my video and start sending it out to scouts, then sit back and wait for the contract offers to start rolling in.