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The Game of His Life
Bottom of the seventh, game five of the five game series, two outs with a man on second base. Everyone’s heart was pounding not knowing what was going to happen next. Number 1 walks up to the batter’s box, a drop of sweat running down his forehead. He is one of the smallest on the team, but is well known for his hitting abilities. Never before have his skills been needed like this. The best pitcher on the A’s has been brought into the game and looks cool and calm on the mound pitching a quick 65 mph. The batter talks a deep gulp and breath and tries to settle himself down. He cannot help but feel the butterflies in his stomach start to flutter as he watches the pitcher warm up. No one could predict what was going to happen next.
The Angels had fought hard throughout the whole year in order to get to this position they had longed for. They ended the season on a 7 game winning streak and were destined to be in this game right now. No one could bring their spirits down. Everyone was rooting for the underdog to take the championship and knock off the talented A’s team. The A’s lost only one game during the whole year and were the clear favorite to take the JA Championship Series with their intense pitching and their powerful hitting at the plate. Who would have thought they could lose? Who could lose with the two biggest kids on their team? The Angels sure thought they could not steal this thing from them.
He has been playing baseball his whole life. He has played in his neighborhood park with his neighbors and cousins and had simulated this exact moment time and time again.
“Game 7, bottom of the 9th, of the World Series, the Chicago Cubs vs. the Chicago White Sox. Sammy Sosa walks up to the plate with the bases loaded down by three. A hit wins the World Series for the Cubs and stops their infinite streak.”
This was the line he said every time they were about to end the game. His base hit would win the World Series for his favorite team every backyard game and he would glow every time he completed this unthinkable task. He had always dreamed of being able to do this in a real game and this was his opportunity and he was not going to let it go to waste.
Number 1 digs his back foot into the box and does his normal pre-pitch routine. Pulls up his sleeve, points the bat straight at the pitcher, deep breath and is ready for the pitch. The pitcher winds up and throws his fastball about a foot over the batter’s head, but his adrenaline is rushing through him and he cannot help but swing. Strike one. He steps out and slams his bat against his foot in frustration at his mistake at the plate. He looks up and sees his coach, and father, standing in the third base coaching box encouraging him on.
“C’mon now number 1, you have got this, the next one is yours, bring this guy home it is all you!” his dad is screaming.
All he wanted to do is please his father, and reward him for his hard work all season long and for being there with them every year. His dad has always been next to him during all his baseball moments and was always there to encourage him and teach him something new. He taught him everything he needed to about the game in order to make him the player he is at this time right now. Ever since he was a 4 year old playing tee ball his dad has encouraged him to be the best, and this was his moment to show him he truly was.
Now he has to get his mind back on the at bat. He digs in his right foot once again in the box. Pulls up his sleeve, points the bat straight at the pitcher, deep breath and is ready for the next pitch. Pitcher winds up, takes his big leg kick, and launches the pitch towards home plate. The ball was moving like it was in slow motion. Number 1 was just sitting and waiting for the ball to get to him. He gets too into the moment and forgets the really reason he is up there: to swing.
“Strike two,” the umpire screams out.
Now number 1 strikes the bat against his front cleat and has never been more frustrated in his life.
“You can do this,” he tells himself. “You’ve been going through this exact moment your whole life it is your time to shine.”
Now the crowd has gotten a bit nervous. 0-2 count, 2 outs, team down by 1; who could have any hope in winning this series? His teammates have their hats turned inside out on their heads signifying a rally cap and are cheering him on louder than ever. He has never been more nervous in his life.
It all came down to this. Two strikes with two outs and he needed this hit. Number 1 has never gripped the bat more firm in his life and he was ready to do what he had to do. He digs his right foot into the box and gets ready. Pulls up his sleeve, points the bat straight at the pitcher, deep breath and is ready to go. He feels the sweat dripping down his back and can feel the hairs on his next stand up to attention like a group of young army men addressing their sargeant. He knows he is ready this time, and is not going to let this pitcher take this game away from him.
The pitcher takes off his hat, wipes the sweat from his forehead and sets his foot on the rubber. Number 1 stares directly at him without losing concentration at all. The pitcher starts his windup and with a big leg kick, delivers the ball harder than he ever has before. The ball zips straight out of his hand and it feels like it reaches the plate faster than a jet. Number 1 takes the bat off his shoulder, swings as hard as he can, and makes solid contact with the ball.
He has never ran faster in his life. He never even took the time to look up to see where the ball went, but he knew he had to get to first base. A foot away from first he looked up and saw his first base coach waving him around the bag, jumping up and down with joy while doing it. Number 1 could not help but laugh as he saw his coach, a fairly big man, jumping up with such grace. He kept running and would not stop for anything. Coming up around second base he heard a loud scream from the crowd. He did not know what was the cause for the sudden burst of cheering, but goosebumps began to form on his arms and neck when he heard it. What could have happened? Did someone make a diving catch? Thrown out at home? All he could think of was the possible worst. When he turned around second though, he saw his home stands standing up yelling and jumping and started to see his teammates clear out of their dugout to meet him at home plate.
Could it be what he thought had happened?
Did he really just do the unthinkable?
Number 1 approached third base and saw his dad with a huge smile on his face. He had never been more proud to say that his son hit a homerun to win the JA Championship for the Angels. Running around third, he had never been more excited to jump into the crowd of teammates and get mauled at the plate for his remarkable accomplishment. No one believed this small, skinny kid could win them the game, but number 1 completed his lifelong dream of clinching the series for his team with a game winning homerun. All he could think of now, was could he do it in the majors?
Ever since that epic day at Hinkley 3 in 2007, that little kid has grown and never forgot this day in his life. Even today he takes a minutes every once awhile and thinks about it.
“Hey, maybe I could do this again someday.”
Now today, playing his way through high school, he never forgets putting on the Angels number 1 jersey even as he slips on his Maine South number 1 jersey. Sometimes he even plays through the same events in his head as he did as a kid.
Bottom of the ninth, game 7 of the World Series, 2 outs with a runner on second and it all comes down to #1 Pat Burke to finish the job...