Four days at the beach and the 60-mph fastball. Column by Tim Gaffney.
TORRINGTON: What’s not to love about a couple of days hanging out with the Atlantic Ocean?
Nothing I say. It’s been a tradition for generations of families and ours in no exception.
Some of my fondest memories come from my days growing up and heading to the Jersey Shore for a week of sun and fun each summer
Now, I’m talking my version of the Jersey Shore, not the fake, phony and ridiculous stuff you see on reality shows with Snooky or Snooker or whatever their names are.
I’m talking Seaside Heights, Asbury Park and Ocean Beach with mom and dad, cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents for a week or more of sun, sand and far too much eating.
Heck, back then though, you could eat all day and night and still get blown away by the wind and surf at a robust weight of about 120 pounds.
Sure, that part has changed but the sheer joy remains while watching our granddaughter Skyy take on the waves of a somewhat calmer body of water that is still the Atlantic, but a scaled down version along the coast of Westerly, Rhode Island.
Thanks to the kindness of my daughter Jillian, who was away in Hawaii for the week with her sister Jaimie and her husband Bill’s family for the week, we escaped to Ledyard for some much needed R+R.
The ride from Ledyard to Rhode Island is an easy 20 minutes (more on that supposed easy part later) and one escapes into the beach life, coolers and boogey boards in tow.
Skyy represents the next generation of fearless daredevils who looks at the mighty Atlantic as another beach to be conquered at nine and a half years of age. Her own personal playground.
The world’s biggest automatic fun zone. No video game of TV show can duplicate the relentlessness of the waves that simply don’t get tired.
Right across the street from the beach was another type of fun zone, this one filled with water slides, bumper boats, batting cages (yes!) and a bungee area.
The bungee (a trampoline with cords that took her up about 25-30 feet) was an instant favorite for Skyy while Pa (that’s me) tried his luck at the hardball.
I have always prided myself as being one who could maintain good enough hand-eye coordination to hit off the machine, no matter my age.
Couldn’t hit off live pitching to save my life unless it was BP, but I have fun.
It was a test of more than just the eyes, it was a test of my still mending left knee.
The more things get back to normal after my January surgery, the more things I want to make sure I can still do.
Still can’t run but hell, never ran very well anyhow. It’s just nice to know I can if I want or need to.
Started in the 50-mile per our zone and after starting with a bunt (slows things down) managed to make some pretty good contact with the 25 swings I got per token while Skyy launched herself somewhere into space next to me.
Got daring after a while and went up a level to the 60-mile per hour level with limited, but still counts, kind of success.
Forget 70 on up. Simply a blur.
Always reminds me when I see a guy on TV miss a 92-mph fastball that looks like it’s right there, how could he possibly miss it?
I’m 55 (soon to be 56) so hitting the 60 still keeps my standard up. Going to get worse as I get older but that’s for another day.
Kept hearing former Torrington Twister batting coach and local legend Moe Mohardt in my ear as I took on each pitch.
“Balance the bat so it feels as light as a feather.” Mohardt would advise.
Our tendency (or maybe just mine) is to tense up and swing with everything we have with the off chance that the wood hits the rawhide but Moe’s advice always rungs true for me.
The more I relax and then react, the better the result.
After leaving Ledyard each day by 11 a.m., we would play hard until at least nine each night then head back inland and try like heck to find Jillian’s condo.
Note to Ledyard. Maybe a street like or a couple more signs?
One of the darkest area’s on the planet with some seriously winding roads.
Three nights back from Westerly, three different, non-intended routes. Each usually involved staring up at Foxwoods at some point, then a certain measure of anger towards a phone GPS that was having far too much fun with some lost fools.
Only Saturday morning saw us find us find our way back without an issues. Sure, time to go and we find our way.
Mrs. Gaffney did most of the deep section of the Atlantic with the short one and while the ocean may have won day one, Deb held her own the rest of the way.
The water therapy (resistance standing) and walking the beach didn’t feel great for me but it helped get the legs stronger with each step.
So now we return to Connecticut to prepare for a fast month of August that will be over before we know it but the memories of another adventure with the Atlantic will always be there.
Like I told Skyy, the ocean will be right where we left it the next time we go back, welcoming us as it has for decades.