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Wiffleball This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   Whiffle

by B. H., Arlington, MA

One of the fondest and first memories that comes to my mind when thinking of my early youth is the countless games of wiffleball played in my backyard during the hot summer months between my brother and me. Through the constant study of the sports page, I, at age nine, had learned the lineups of the major teams in the Eastern Division of the American League. These included the New York Yankees, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Milwaukee Brewers, and of course, the beloved hometown Red Sox. Both Jonah and I had picked our favorite players by then, Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, respectively, both longtime Red Sox veterans.

As I had a distinct advantage in being four years older, I taught myself to switch-hit, so that I could imitate not only the right-handed but also the left-handed hitters. Jonah was also allowed three outs per inning as opposed to my two. These factors kept the games close and gave me a willing competitor most of the time.

The dimensions of our backyard created a unique playing field, which resulted in unusual plays. From homeplate to the back fence, which also served as the homerun fence, was about sixty feet, a good measure for a nine-year-old, much less a five-year-old, to hit a whiffleball. The width of the field was comparatively small, measuring approximately twenty-five feet. Another oddity of the playing field was that second base was only ten feet from the fence, causing wide turns at first and third base, but a very sharp one at second base. Lastly, a fence ran along the right side of the field, creating a minuscule right field.

Because of these circumstances, I developed a strong pull when batting right-handed, my most often stance. The bunt also became quite valuable, since, with only one fielder, a good bunt could usually be counted on for a double. For this reason we limited the number of bunts per game. Also, because of the park dimensions, a hit to rightfield was almost assuredly a single. I can remember many days with the sweltering sun overhead when Jonah and I played for hours. Our shouts of glee and dismay filled the air during dramatic moments. Our faces glistened with sweat from a hard-fought game. On a close play at a base, a cloud of smoke would rise from the ground, and wander away, leaving Jonah and me by ourselves to ponder and argue vehemently about what had just transpired. But we always regrouped and after one of us had had enough for the day, we would walk together toward our house.

Thinking about those days gone by, I wonder why Jonah and I cannot solve our problems this easily now, and instead, wrestle each other to the ground over petty squabbles I recall those hot summer days and wish I could relive them just once, or at least find the kindness and understanding we once shared. 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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