The Legend of Cecilio Guante
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LCG Era Random: The "Pitch Back" Net

This is part of a series, people. Or at least that’s the idea.

Mine was slightly shorter with a red taped-center box. It also boasted two red hind legs. They were then meant to be “anchored” to the ground with ‘j’-shaped metal spikes. Admit it, you too had a “pitch back net” too. And for all the joy and wonder it may have initially brought, there were also countless hours I spent digging for baseballs in and around my backyard on account of the not-always-so-reliable “pitch back.”

Now, let’s set the background here right quick. I was a baseball player from a young age. There was no sport I enjoyed playing more, and it was the one for which I had the most natural “talent.” Though I was never a star, I managed to captain my HS squad garner an All-League selection and some random accolades before hanging up the spikes. So, in my younger days, me and the pitch back net shared some quality time. To understand our love/hate relationship, one must realize the environment in which my dear net of rebound resided.

My red-tinted PBN sat at the far end of my (maybe) 20 x 10 (yards) backyard. Immediately behind the net was a thick swath of pachysandra that ran the width of the yard and about 10 feet deep. A few yards to the left was the back of my house, with a few too-close-for-comfort basement windows. To the right, more pachysandra and a gently sloping hill of dense forest. I would typically set up on the end of the yard opposite the pitchback with my driveway and parked cars precariously standing behind me.

How long my PBN held court in my backyard is a fact I cannot recall. It seemed like decades though. At the start, it was a boy’s best friend. Young enough to toss it around with relative accuracy from short distances, the PBN was an always-there catch buddy. Toss it towards the top and you were fielding grounders. Hit the lower portion and, looky here, shagging flies. Glooorious.

However, as I got older, the PBN started to pose problems. First, there was the ever-shifting net. Once the ball began hitting home with a bit more force, the back-leg stakes inevitably seemed to magically uproot themselves. This would lead to errrant pitch backs and numerous re-applying of the stakes. Moreso, with a more mature gun, I had less control and more heat. This often led to near disasters. At best, I would back up to near 60 feet and break out into the full windup. Digging around the pachysandra for the next 10 minutes frequently followed.

Even if control was on, the “pitch backs” now came right back towards you with equal force. This led to my careening across the yard to snatch balls before they hurtled through house windows or car windshields, not to mention accumulating countless grass stains and bloodied knees in order to avoid another scavenger hunt through the forest. Eventually, we had to retire the ‘ole PBN — with all its dings and holes and warped frame.

Maybe you too have fond memories of a backyard pitch back net? Please share. This guy knows what it’s all about.

One Comment

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    June 8, 2015 at 2:04 am

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