A baseball game is only a baseball game. Or is it?
The late afternoon sun was barely touching the horizon when the umpire yelled,
Dust from the catcher’s mitt hovered in the air like a swamp fog.
My oldest daughter and her school friend wanted to play little league baseball that summer. No teams showed interest in either girl so ,the friend's father and I, volunteered to coach a team. The word got out, as usual, about us coaching the two girls on our own team. We ended up all the boys no team wanted with five girls in addition.
I have a hard time visualizing the pressure that she must be facing at this time. A quick sweaty faced glance toward third base, where I was coaching, sent a signal of desperation.
“Just remember what I said, Baby”. she hated for me to call her that at the ball field, but I couldn’t help myself. “Step into it with your left foot and swing at the next one”.
She stepped out of the batter’s box and wiped, with the back of her hand, as much sweat from her eyes as she could. I am not totally sure where the moisture came from. She looked back at me and I grinned and nodded my head in an affirmative nod.
The pitcher took his windup and as soon as the ball left his hand, everything began to react in slow motion. The baseball started it arched path toward the catcher. The bright red seams slowly end over end seemed to claw its way toward home plate. The first noticeable movement was the lifting of the pink sunflower patch covering the torn hole in the left knee of her trousers. The Nike tennis shoe lifted from the red sand and stepped toward the pitcher as the bat started its slow level swing. The red stitching and Louisville slugger met at the front edge of home plate. Before the crack of the bat could be heard, the parents from both teams exploded in a roar. Tiny puffs of dust chased her all the way to first base as the now scarred wound horsehide completed its journey into center field. a radiant beam of confidence shot its way across the diamond and struck me square in the chest. I knew where the moisture came from. It was not now or ever just a game. I can clearly see that now.
About to forget, that rag-tag bunch of boys and five girls won second place in the tri-cites baseball league that hot dusty summer.
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