If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, you might want to start there. I can only re-live my early adolescence on the ball field one post at a time, you know. But it wasn’t all errors and embarrassment. I clearly remember my one moment of baseball magic — one of the key themes running through Bruce’s book. That moment when everything on the field came together beautifully, and I was the center of it. That moment is burned into my mind like the lightfire from The Traveller’s fingertips burns into Cletis during their battle. (You’re really wondering what The Baseball Box Prophecy is all about, aren’t you?)
I can’t remember who we were playing, but I was on-deck, watching my team load the bases. While most boys would have loved that challenge and that pressure of the RBI (“ribbies,” as my brothers called them), I was dreading it. For me it was one more chance to embarrass myself and let the team down. So there I am in the on-deck circle, taking awkward little practice swings that were anything but level, and praying that the batter before me would make the third out so I wouldn’t have to hit.
Bam! No such luck. The kid in front of me connects and drives it right between first and second, hits first safely, and the other runners advanced. Bases loaded. Now batting: Gerdes Turd Farms right fielder Alan Newbold. I swear I heard a collective groan from the bench — MY bench.
But somehow, the magic happened. I watched the ball — all the way until it hit my bat — and CRACK! That ball went sailing all the way into right center! Further than I’d ever hit a ball before in my life (that’s assuming I actually had hit a ball before in my life). I was running like a mad man as I watched it continue to bounce and roll away from the outfielders. I rounded second and headed to third. My coach was jumping and waving me around third (that was a signal that was clearly apparent, thank god, or I probably would have misinterpreted it and pulled up there), so I rounded third and headed toward home. I saw the catcher putting his mitt up, getting ready for the throw, but it wasn’t anywhere near the plate as I crossed home into glory! THAT was baseball magic!
Ah, I can taste that moment like it was yesterday. My biggest — and only — moment of baseball magic during my two years on Gerdes Turd Farm’s little league team. But it gave me confidence. And when I was up next in the game, my team-mates actually cheered me on! “Do it again, Alan!” “Watch out outfield, Newbold’s up!” I swear I had a swagger in my walk as I stepped into the box… and promptly went down swinging. Yep, struck out in three pitches. Ah, life was good. And so was the book… but more on that in my next post. I’m simply having too much fun!