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Dream Of Fields This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Dream of Fields

by C. F., Congers, NY

It was a hot late spring day in May and my senior league baseball team had just lost its last game, finishing    3-16. My manager gathered us after the game for the usual announcements. He said, "There will be an orientation for those of you who would like to participate in the Challenger Program."

"What? What's the Challenger Program?" asked most of the team, including me.

"It's an organization that helps mentally retarded and physically disabled children play baseball," my manager replied. My coach added, "For instance, if they are in a wheelchair, you push them to first base; if they are blind, you walk them."

"I don't wanna help retarded kids play baseball," replied most. I said nothing, because I did not know what I thought.

My manager finished by saying, "You will probably make a friend for the day, and a long time afterwards." I figured that I might as well show up for the orientation. There was probably more to be gained than lost.

The orientation was great: A table filled with treats, a video screen and a registration table. Upon registering, I decided to sign up for three of the four Sundays: May 30, June 6 and June 21. I would have gone on the 13th, but that was my birthday and a party is always thrown.

Then the video started. They noted that our vicinity was "District 18." With this fact, and with interviews of Texans, I realized that the Challenger Program was a nationwide program. The video then showed how the program worked. I was to play the role of a "buddy." A buddy is always with his challenger, on defense and offense, from sitting on the bench waiting to bat, to batting itself, to playing the field. They explained the rules. Nobody is ever out, everyone bats, and everyone plays the field.

The day came, and I was off to the field. I was assigned to a beautiful little girl named Alana. We waited while the other team played, and then we took the field. I noticed two special qualities in Alana: the gift to be in two places at once and an endless supply of energy.

Next our team went up to bat. As I sat down, I looked around and saw how many people I knew. I was surprised at how many people had showed up, even some of the skeptics from my team. Then Alana and I went to bat. After several swings, we were off. The ball had beaten us to first, but we were called safe anyway.

I'll never forget the umpire! A permanent happy expression, a kind, loving feeling. He was there to help, because he loved the kids.

The next two Saturday games were more of the same: smiling faces, people giving their all, and desires to be the best. For the last game, I was assigned to an adorable kid named Earth Nelson. He told me plenty of riddles. Some old, some new, some corny, some funny.

The umpire broke into tears upon receiving his trophy. "I love these kids!" he shouted. He also won the 50-50 raffle, and naturally, he gave it all back to the cause.

All of the little things I told you (like the rule that you are automatically safe, my friends attending, Earth's riddles, and the umpire winning the 50-50) show you how they add up. The program was flawless. The only imperfection was that I missed the June 13th game. 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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