"Touch /*Em All" This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Everyone remembers Mighty Casey and the Mudville Nine. The story of Mighty Clayton and the Newtonville Ten is a little less famous.

The high school team from suburban Boston was having a great season. They were undefeated and had been stomping on their opponents with scores of ten, twenty, and even thirty to nothing! Mighty Clayton, however, was hardly responsible for their success until one day...

One day, a sunny but manageable seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit day in April - April 29, 1991 to be exact - a little known senior utility player named Clayton made his mark in history. He had been doing stellar work at such positions as left out and right bench, and the coach, Mr. Coachilino, decided that it was time for Clayton's day in the sun. Whether it was divine inspiration on Coachilino's part, just a hunch, or simply deciding to give Clayton a break from riding the pine, he put him in on that famous day.

Clayton was nothing less than shocked when he heard his name mentioned as Coachilino read the starting lineup. He would be the designated hitter, batting seventh. Normally he just went through the motions when the rest of the team was stretching and doing pre-game warm-up exercises, but not on April 29. He had to get ready; he was starting!

The game began and the opposition was retired one, two, three. After a few singles, a walk, and a hit batter, it was Clayton's turn at bat. When he stepped up to the plate, that little white pentagon in the dirt, he had trouble realizing that he was in the game and not doing geometry. He pawed the dirt with his cleats and dug two little holes, one for each foot. Looking back at the umpire, he asked, "Two outs?"

The old ump, who seemed to have been crouching behind that plate with dust blowing in his face for at least fifty years, nodded in the affirmative. Trying not to feel the pressure, Clayton prepared himself for the pitch and looked up the hill at the pitcher who was simultaneously glaring down on him. The pitcher wound up and launched the baseball, that tiny white leather projectile, toward Clayton. It crossed right over the plate at waist level.

"Steeeerrrrriiiikkkkkke one!!!" the ump bellowed.

Clayton thought to himself, That wasn't so bad, I think I can hit him. In came the second pitch, spinning toward the plate. Without thinking, Clayton swung the bat. His arms and legs seemed to do everything that they were supposed to do when they were supposed to do it. There was a perfect sequential unlocking of body parts as the left foot stepped, and the hips opened up, and the arms powered thirty-three and one half inches of aluminum, weighing twenty-eight and one half ounces, across the plate.

Crack!!! The ball leapt off the bat on its journey to another land. As he reached first base, he glanced toward left field and he couldn't believe what he saw. The ball crashed off the top of the fence, some 350 feet from home plate, and dove to the other side. Clayton had hit a home run! A cacophony of sounds burst forth from the bench. There was disbelief as it began to sink into his teammates' heads what had just transpired.

As Clayton broke stride and slowed to a jog, he began thinking. Yes, he had silenced his critics, but more than anything else, he had regained his confidence. It seemed to take forever to reach home plate. He had never run so slowly on the base paths. It seemed that he was forever running his hardest to beat out infield grounders, but not now.

When he finally touched the plate and was greeted with high fives, he asked, "Is this heaven?"

Someone answered, "No, it's Newtonville." n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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