The romanticizing of baseball conjures connotations of a pastoral game. There is no clock. Games are played in parks with an occasional cornfield serving as an outfield fence. Lulls between short bursts of action result in a congenial atmosphere that lends itself to long, hot summer days and nights.

The romanticizing of baseball conjures connotations of a pastoral game. There is no clock. Games are played in parks with an occasional cornfield serving as an outfield fence. Lulls between short bursts of action result in a congenial atmosphere that lends itself to long, hot summer days and nights.

It isn't a game that would seem to strike fear in anyone, unless you're a Chicago Cubs fan. Yet fear is an emotion felt by players and coaches from the time 5-year-olds begin T-ball to the ones who get paid millions to manage and play. Whether it's fear from pain or fear from failure, it is a prevalent emotion.

Most are introduced to baseball at the T-ball level where players are taught fundamentals or strategy only after one concept is mastered.

Do not be afraid of the ball.

It's easy for coaches to say, but to a young kid it's not easy to accept. Throughout a game, the ball becomes a weapon. That can be scary. Baseballs are hard and when it hits you, well, it hurts.

"You're going to get kids afraid of the ball," said Phil Ennis, commissioner of an 8-and-under league at Central Ohio Youth Baseball League and a T-ball coach. "You're going to get hit. The sooner they get over that fear the better off they are. Some kids never get over that fear."

In order to have his young players deal with that fear, he focuses on the fundamentals.

"I've found that they just need to be taught the proper mechanics on how to catch and field a ball," Ennis said. "You have to teach it in a way kids can relate and understand and not overwhelm them."

In order to lessen the pain from being hit by a ball, players of all levels have protective gear. Catchers ware shin guards, chest protectors and a facemask. Batters have the batting helmet as well as shin and elbow guards.

Regardless of position, no player is caught without a protective cup.

Consider the times a baseball player is presented with an opportunity for physical harm during the course of a game.

A pitcher who, seconds after releasing his pitch, has the ball returned to him by the batter in the form of a line-drive.

A ground ball to shortstop that seems routine, suddenly hits a patch of grass and bounces away from his two areas of protection -- his glove and his cup.

A batter staring at a fastball that's coming straight for his head.

An outfielder running full speed toward the fence as he tracks a fly ball.

A third baseman trying to catch a screaming line drive.

A catcher staring down a runner heading home.

So much for a non-contact sport, eh?

Baseball history is littered with former players who've had in-game injuries that ended their professional careers. Look no further than Cleveland where pitcher Herb Score and catcher Ray Fosse had careers derailed because of on-field contact with a ball or a fellow competitor.

In central Ohio, Jayce Stewart, a 2008 graduate of New Albany High School and four-year starter at catcher, tried to be a walk-on at Miami University. What happened to him wasn't as a result of a batted ball back at a pitcher or a base runner barreling down the third-base line.

"He was going through a practice and had an accident," New Albany coach Bob Talpas said. "He was catching and they were using a pitching machine to practice framing pitches. He turned to look somewhere else, someone turned on the machine and it hit him in the face. He had reconstructive surgery and was laid up for quite a while. He didn't try out after that."

"Getting hit is part of the game, but I don't know if there's fear. The game of baseball is a lot of failure. If you bat .300, you fail seven out of 10 times at the plate."

While a fear of getting injured wanes as a baseball player gets older, a fear of failure grows in conjunction with the pressure. What does failure mean for a high school player? Getting cut. A college player? Losing a scholarship. A professional? Learning to dress business casual.

"There is that fear of giving up on your dream," Central Crossing coach Scott Todd said. "By the time you get to college you don't necessarily have that fear of failure. If you had that, you wouldn't be very successful. But if you've been doing something for 20 years, baseball is what you know and you feel you've been successful at, you want to continue playing a game you love to play. You want to wake up and go to the park and take 200 cuts in the cage or throw a bullpen session. You don't want to wake up and go to the office."

With so much failure association in baseball, Pickerington Central coach Chick Campbell alleviates a fear of failing by staying positive.

"In the district championship game against Gahanna this year, they had one on and one out," Campbell said. "A ground ball was a tailor-made double play. We booted it, and they scored three runs. When we came off the field we were more positive than negative. Kids these days will have more success if you're more positive than negative."

That translates to the upper levels. More and more, professional managers that are intense and in-your-face (i.e. Earl Weaver) are replaced by a more laid-back manager (i.e. Mike Scioscia).

"The more you get on them when they do make mistakes, the more of a fear factor there is," Campbell said. "Baseball is a monotonous sport and if you go out and compete to the best of your ability, you can wake up in the morning, the sun is shining and you can greet the new day."