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Oh Gosh, here it comes! Oh Gosh, Oh Gosh. I close my eyes tight and my whole body tenses. Ah, this is gonna hurt like heck. I jump back as the ball smacks against the worn leather of the catcher’s mitt. I open my eyes and peer back towards the umpire waiting to hear the call. Ok good, it was a ball that was close. I wonder if coach saw me close my eyes. I look up from under my helmet having to raise my head awkwardly high to see out from underneath the bill. Mark, my coach, was standing next to first base giving me signals. I don’t know why he even gives those anymore; I’m the only one that ever gets them right. He slaps his thigh, rubs his arm, repositions his cap, and… there the indicator; he just pulled his ear. Next he positions his hand over his heart signaling me to swing at this pitch. All that to tell me to swing! I thought that was the point if you wanted to hit the ball! Anyway, the pitcher starts his windup and releases the ball. Swing, darn it I missed, just like always.
“Strike three,” calls a voice just behind me.
I take off my helmet and trot back to the dugout and the reassuring voices of my teammates.
“You’ll get’em next time” says Chris.
“Yeah, don’t worry about it” comes a voice from somewhere down the line.
I play for Attorney Redd at East Huntington Little League and we are awesome, we win almost every game and we’re defending league champs. There’s Patrick who catches and Curtis who plays center field. His full name is Curtis Jackson, the same as the rapper who got shot all those times. He thinks that’s like the coolest thing ever, but I’m not so sure getting shot is cool. Isaiah plays second base, and Chris plays either first or third depending on if we’re home or away because that’s as far as he can run. On account of how big he is. Then there’s Cody who plays shortstop, and Nikki who plays first and third like Chris. She isn’t big like Chris but just plays whatever he doesn’t. After that is Josh, Chris’s brother. He is HUGE, but not fat. He’s big the other way, tall and with muscles. Magnet plays left field. We call him Magnet because he’s so short that pitchers don’t know how to throw to him, so he always ends up getting hit and, honestly, I can’t even remember his real name. Lastly is me, Michael. I play right field. I don’t mind playing right field but its so boring. Well, baseball, in general, is boring. During games I normally end up playing with the grass or my glove, anything to keep from falling asleep. What I really want to play is first base, that way I get to do something every play.
The entire team goes to public school other than me. I was scared of them the first day of practice. I don’t know why, but public school kids scare me. They all tell stories from school, and normally I just laugh and nod when I’m supposed to. But really I have no idea what they are talking about, especially the black kids on the team; Chris, Josh, Isaiah, and Curtis. Most of the time I can understand Chris and Josh, and Isaiah is really shy so he doesn’t talk much, but Curtis is just out of his mind. I really just think he is stupid or something cause nothing he says makes sense. One day I was being smart and used a big word like vindictive or something, but no one else knew what it meant, so I ended up looking like the dumb kid. I’m really not though; I make straight A’s and get a bunch of awards at the end of the year. Science is my favorite subject, but if you ask me, I’ll say its gym, that way you won’t ask me any more questions. No one ever asks why gym is your favorite subject.
Just past the outfield fence and across the street is my grandma’s old house. The one that my Dad grew up in. She doesn’t live there anymore, but I can remember going to that house after preschool on days that Paw Paw would pick me up. It’s a tiny house with a porch and a white awning. I remember one time when we went there with all of my cousins. Our parents dressed us up in matching outfits and took pictures of us on that porch. I’ve seen that picture hanging in all of our houses. But what’s special about that house is what is in front of it. In the middle of the front yard is a massive tree, so big that from most angles you can’t even tell that there is a house behind it. My Dad said that when he was my age his mom planted that tree, and it was so small that she had to put a fence around it so people wouldn’t step on it. Now that tree is as big as a building and is the target of every kid that steps up to the plate. I’ve only seen one kid hit it since I’ve been playing and that was Josh. He is a monster. After the first few games, all the other teams decided to walk him on purpose so that he couldn’t hit any more homeruns. It didn’t work. One game I think he got tired of always getting walked, so he swung out and hit the ball.
My Dad comes to all of my games and even helps out at some of the practices. He was a really good baseball player when he was a kid. He even told me that if he hadn’t played soccer in college he would have played baseball instead. During the games he sits in the dugout with us, on top of an overturned bucket that we normally keep balls in. He keeps the book with all the stats in it. Everyone always crowds around him after the games, trying to see how they did. I never do, though. Not because I don’t care, but because I already know what’s written beside my name. K. Just a bunch of K’s and most of them are backwards.
I’m really not bad at baseball. I can field and catch a fly ball just as good as anyone else on the team, I just can’t bat. Every time I go up to bat I tell myself not to be scared. I’ve been hit before and its not that bad; it’s just instincts. Someone throws a ball at me, I jump out of the way. And then when I get brave enough to stay and swing, I miss. Probably because I close my eyes, but still, you’d think I would hit it at least once! One day I’d just had it. We were winning by a lot. It was the third inning and we had already broken the scoreboard, and the other team put in a slow pitcher. I was really excited cause I thought that I could get a hit but I missed every ball he threw.
“Strike three” called the umpire.
I was fed up with baseball; I walked back to the dugout and threw my helmet and bat against the bench in frustration. Everybody stopped what they were doing and looked up at me. I pretended not to notice them and collected my glove on my way back out to right field. When I got to the doorway my Dad tried to calm me down
“Don’t worry about it, everybody misses”.
“Yeah, I just miss more than everybody else” I replied.
I was already half way out to my place when I heard him say
“Its not rocket science, just hit the ball”.
“Yeah, well I wish it was rocket science, I’d be better at it!” I yelled back at him. I felt bad for yelling but I was really mad.
“Why can’t I just hit the ball?”! I said, but not too loud so that someone could hear. I’m tired of being an easy out.
The next game I didn’t even want to play, but my Dad made me. I got walked my first time up, and then struck out the second. The third time I really didn’t care anymore. I walked up to the plate slowly, and got behind in the count fast. I dug my feet in and decided that no matter what; I wasn’t going to back out. The pitcher went through his windup and threw the ball. It came right down the middle. Swing, crack. I hit the ball! I was so excited that I didn’t even look to see where it went, but it must have made it to the outfield because I could hear Mark yelling,
“Run, Run, Run!”.
When I got to second he was still yelling so I began to round second and make my way for third. Halfway to third my helmet started to slip over my eyes. I can’t see a thing. I over ran third; I could feel it under my feet. Crap, I’m gonna get thrown out. I lifted my helmet looking frantically for the base. I found it and dove just as the third baseman caught the ball.
“Safe!” called the umpire.
I looked up at my friends in the dugout. They were all laughing but I didn’t care, cause I knew right then my dad was writing something other than a K next to my name.