Hero at Last!
Everyone that has played baseball has wished for baseball glory! To be the one that saves the game or scores the winning run is every ballplayer's dream scenario. Every minute of the games we played daily were filled with the hope that, one day, we will follow in the footsteps of our baseball idols. Wearing our hero's number on our shirt, standing like him in the outfield or copying his batter's stance, was all part of the game. In this story, our hero of the baseball diamond has his day of baseball glory.
Run AJ, Run!
Crack! I knew I had hit the ball, but I didn't see it. I thought someone had caught it, so I started to walk back to the dugout bench. My stunned coach began to scream "Run, AJ, Run!" So I figured out and barreled down the base line. The crowd and my team cheered wildly as I hurtled toward first-base.
For me, baseball was part of every summer growing up. I played for 10 years and at one time or another I had played every position. My hitting was fairly consistent and I usually batted third or fourth in the lineup. (I was pretty good!) And, like every ballplayer, I longed to be the hero of the game.
My favorite team was the Pittsburgh Pirates--through the losing and winning years. My baseball heroes were Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. I followed all the teams. I knew the starting line-up for most Major League teams. At any given day I could tell you the top ten leaders in RBI's. I could name the Home Run Leaders. I knew who had the most steals by runners and the top ERA and Saves among pitchers. But, I longed for baseball glory!
On this particular cool, sunny, summer morning, we were playing a team from another part of town. A friend of mine from high school--a left-hander, named Tony, was the pitcher. I had hit well against him in other games. In fact, during an earlier game, I had hit a towering, long ball for a home-run. So it came as no surprise on this day that I had hit the ball hard.
As I had walked up to the plate, we were in the last inning of the game. The score was tied. Tony's first pitch was high and inside. I dove to the ground to make the pitch look really close (so the umpire would call a ball). "Ball!", the umpire shouted, as I got up and dusted myself off. It was Tony's second pitch that I hit.
As I said, I didn't see the ball anywhere, so I thought someone had caught it. After everyone started screaming, and my coach yelled, I got the message and began to run. As I rounded first-base, I slipped but kept my balance. It seemed like it was taking forever to get to second-base--like I was running in molasses. By then I could see the center-fielder running after the ball that I had hit far over his head. A massive blast!
As I got to second-base, I saw him pick up the ball and throw it toward the infield. I heard the first-base coach yelling, "Go, go, go!" As I rounded second, the coach at third-base threw up his arms for me to halt. I had lost so much time getting started, so I had to stop at third-base.
What a baseball game! I stood at third-base wishing I had a third leg with which to kick myself. A ball hit that far and that hard and I only got a triple. As bad as I felt for myself, I felt even worse for my team. We could have won the game if I had only run like I should have run. Instead, the score was still tied. I stayed close to the bag at third-base.
Oh well, there was only one out. Maybe the next batter would get me to home plate on a ground ball. Tony stretched and pitched the ball to the batter. The first pitch was high and wild--normal pitching for Tony. The catcher scrambled after the ball as it spun in the dust in front of home plate. "Ball!" the umpire bellowed. The second pitch was low for ball two. Tony wound up and delivered the pitch as I took a big lead toward home. The batter made contact with the ball and it bounced in a jagged line toward third but right to the third-baseman. I had to hurry back to the bag. He tried to tag me, but I dove under his arm. “Safe!” the umpire screamed. Whew! Close call!
Well, now we had men on first and third. As Tony started his stretch, I inched once again toward home. The umpire called "Ball!" Tony glanced over at me, grimaced and punched the inside of his glove. I think it really irked him to see me there. He had avoided looking at me up until now, probably hoping I would disappear. Stepping onto the pitcher's mound, his long, left arm curled and swung high over his shoulder. The ball flew from his fist and whizzed toward the batter. He swung, but missed.
The count was now one ball and one strike. At this point, my coach gave the hit and run signal for the runner on first. I was on my own--to use my best judgement--to run or not, depending on where the ball was hit. Tony once again hurled the ball toward home. The batter took a big swing but missed the ball. The runner on first raced toward second. As soon as the catcher threw toward second base, I sped toward home. I guess the catcher never thought that I'd try to score (maybe because he saw me run earlier). The second-baseman was also caught by surprise, he didn't even attempt to throw me out. I pumped my legs harder as I ran. I neared my target and slid into home. The crowd roared as I stood up on home plate with the winning run. Tony sat down on the pitcher’s mound and put his face in his glove. The catcher dropped his mitt into the dust behind home plate as my teammates ran toward me. A hero at last!
© 2013 ajwrites57
Have you ever scored the winning run in a baseball game?
PNC Park - Pittsburgh, PA
Did you enjoy playing baseball when you were a child? When I was a boy, during the summer, we'd play morning, noon and night! We played in the street, in parks, on baseball fields, in grocery store parking lots---anywhere we could. I played on pick-up teams in the morning and on an organized team at night or on weekends.
My thirst for the game could not be quenched! You always find rubber balls, hard balls softballs and bats under every table, chair or couch and behind every door.Baseball played an important part of my life growing up. It taught me good sportsmanship, the value of hard work and the discipline to practice my skill. Thank God for baseball!
Roberto Clemente #21
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© 2013 AJ