I really was like a child again as I took my first swing on the first pitch I saw from the batting practice pitcher. But it was nothing like the ball I had hit in my dream the night before.
The ball in my dream sailed deep over the left-field fence for a home run, but the ball I hit in reality barely rolled to third base.
The only thing I could do was laugh. At least I'd hit the ball and it was the perfect swinging bunt. I thought to myself, "Hey, Juan Pierre easily would have made it to first on that hit."
The weak first hit actually eased my nerves. I was more afraid of swinging and missing than anything else. I hadn't hit against live pitching much since high school when I played as a freshman but wasn't even good enough to play junior varsity.
I connected with two more ground balls on the next two pitches I saw before I swung at a high pitch and popped it straight up into the net.
I hit a few more groundballs before I was told that I had just two more pitches to hit. It was then I realized that not only had I not hit it out of the park like my dream the night before, I hadn't even hit a fly ball out of the infield.
So I dug in and was more focused than ever. And sure enough, I hit a screamer to right field that easily would have been a single. I was satisfied even though I fouled back my last pitch.
But I was still determined to square up on one ball and hit it hard into left field so I went to the indoor batting cages to work on my swing.
After all, it worked for Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, right? He famously hit balls of a tee in the batting cages before hitting his historic home run to lead to the Dodgers to the Game 1 win.
And it seemed to work for me as well. I was crushing the ball in the batting cage. The pitcher asked me if I played college baseball. I didn't think he was serious but he told me I had some real power and could hit a home run if I hit a ball just right.
It was the confidence booster that I needed. I thought maybe I really could hit a home run at Dodger Stadium. So I went back to home plate for one last try.
But of course, it didn't work out like I had planned. I was hitting the ball much harder than my first attempt but it was obvious that I wasn't going to come anywhere close to hitting a home run.
My dream the night before and the batting cage pitcher had gotten my hopes up. But it was worth the try.
As I walked back from home plate I took the time to look around the field that I was just hitting on. I took in the beauty and splendor of the ballpark and realized I didn't need to hit the ball far for it to be a memorable night.
It was all right that I hit a few ground balls, a few shallow fly balls and a couple of hard hit line drives. It was the experience of hitting at Dodger Stadium that really mattered, and because of that it made for a great night where I got to live out one of my biggest childhood dreams.