Who’s your favorite baseball team? If I’m being honest, I don’t keep up with baseball like I used to when I followed the Atlanta Braves because they sported some of my favorite athletes like Chipper Jones, Javy Lopez, Fred McGriff and pitchers – Greg Maddox, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine.
One of the players I kept up with especially was third baseman Chipper Jones. If ever there was an all American athlete and all-around good fellow, Chipper was the guy. It didn’t hurt that he is also a serious deer hunter.
Over his 19 year career, Jones had a lifetime batting average of .303. This means that for almost every third at bat, Jones got a hit. Let’s follow Jones through a pretend game. We’ll say the Braves are playing the Dodgers and Jones steps up to the plate to face lanky right-hander, Orel Hershiser.
First pitch; Jones fouls it back into the stands for strike one. Second pitch; high and outside – ball one. Third pitch; low and in the dirt – ball two. Fourth pitch; right over the middle of the plate; Jones misjudges the speed and – WHOOSH – strike two. After another ball low and away having Jones face a full-count, Hershiser throws a slider, low but over the plate. Jones reaches down like a golfer with a five iron and connects, sending the ball over the second baseman’s head for a single. He flies out and grounds out his other two times at the plate and ends the day one for three right in line with his lifetime batting average.
Dove season opened Saturday in Louisiana and I got an invitation to hunt with some friends over a field of planted millet and natural goat weed. our group got around 40 doves; I ended up with seven.
At the end of the hunt, I counted my spent shotgun shell hulls; there were 20. Here’s where the similarity of shooting doves and smashing baseballs comes into play.
I’m setting up for the morning hunt at the edge of a mowed lane in the millet, a natural landing site for hungry doves settling in for a morning feed. I had my whirling wing decoy out in front to give the illusion of a dove coming in to alight on the lane.
I didn’t have to wait long; a dove came across my shooting lane and I’m ready to open hunting seasons the right way, putting the first dove in my bag.
WHOOSH – I missed, just flat-out missed what should have been an easy shot. Settling down I connected on the next four, including a double. I was brought back to reality that I’m not as good a wing shooter as I’d like to be when I cleanly missed the next four. Relocating to a shade tree along the margin of a pond for an afternoon hunt, three doves had the after-burners blasting as they zoomed past. Like Chipper Jones reaching down for that Hershiser slider, I downed one of the three. Feeling rather smug, I was brought down to earth when I cleanly missed the next three that flew by.
As the afternoon progressed, I downed two more, giving me a total of seven doves for the day. Counting my 20 spent shells and the seven doves at my feet, I came up with a “batting” average of .350.
Chipper Jones can hit a fast ball, slider or curve about every third time he steps to the plate. I hit doves seven out of 20 chances. The way doves make their way across a field can mimic a curve ball or slider, dipping and diving, slowing down and then turning on the jets. Does this put me in Chipper Jones’ league? Absolutely not, but I have to like .350 compared to .303.