Hit it like Hamilton? Not!

Staff WriterJuly 26, 2008 

Let me just say that my sense of humor was frozen in place when I was 15, and that is why I like staff writer J. Peder Zane's videos.

This is the latest in a series of short Zane videos. You may remember "Flying the Unfriendly Skies," or "Fist Bumping," or a recent one, "Biking to Work," in which a young actress (his daughter, it turns out) yells out the window of a vehicle passing a cycling Zane: "Get a car, hippie!" (You can see all of these at videos.newsobserver.com, search on "Zane.")

A short plot synopsis of "Hit it like Josh": Zane's on the couch watching Raleigh's own belt huge dinger after huge dinger at the recent All-Star Game Home Run Derby. Inspired, Zane wonders if he still has the baseball skills he possessed as a younger man. He enlists the help of Clay Council, the 71-year-old Cary volunteer baseball coach who became a celebrity by pitching to Hamilton in the Derby last week. They go out to a field and Zane flails helplessly at Council's pitches.

You will see in the video a bunch of young guys standing behind the backstop, hooting at Zane. They were young Cary ballplayers, out there practicing.

When Zane showed up in yellow headband and his '70s-vintage short shorts, the players were highly amused.

Zane told them what the concept was and asked them if they could razz him for the video. No problem, they said. That's what we were doing anyway.

Zane had to stretch a little to miss Council's pitching.

He was a good enough athlete to have pitched as a freshman for Wesleyan, which may be a D-III school, but never mind. Oh, and I'm supposed to note for the record that he went 5-2 as a high school senior, including a two-hit gem. Zane has not always been just a smarty-pants egghead.

At one point, the jeering from the other side of the batting cage was getting to him such that testosterone kicked in and Zane decided to, Josh-like, give some of Council's lobs a ride.

At which point videographer Jason Arthurs reminded him, dude, you're supposed to be missing the ball. That's the whole point of this, dude.

After the video went live on our Web site, Peder and I talked about how, gee, doesn't the Web let us do incredibly fascinating things with multimedia, blah-di-blah-blah. I'll spare you the cyber-theory palaver that we engage in all the time, him and me.

The main thing you need to know is about Clay Council, fresh from pitching on one of the nation's most famous stages, before a Yankee Stadium crowd made delirious by Hamilton's preternatural display of power, and a national TV audience of 6.1 million homes.

Here he was on this muggy, nondescript diamond, being generous enough to act (and he was good) in a wacky video.

When Zane and Arthurs showed up for the shoot, Council was shagging flies in the outfield for the Cary players. So I don't think sudden fame has gone to his head.

Yeah, we'd all like to be Josh. But we'd be fine just being as cool as Clay.

* * *

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dan.barkin@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4562

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