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A Stride Toward Home…

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“We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher,” the opposing team taunts as they are losing the game. I run out of the dugout to take my spot as the focus of the game. I approach the pile of hard, red clay and dig the teeth of my cleats in. I reach down and wipe off the white, rectangle plate. Everyone is hollering and cheering as they too want to win just as much as I do. I drown out the clamor and shouts and start from the stretch. Waiting for the pitch signs, I run a clump of the cold, moist clay through my fingers. I stand tall and take one final breath, absorbing everything around me. The sights, sounds, smells, and touch of a baseball game all rush through my mind as I take my stride toward home…

The outfielders are dancing with mosquitoes as they are jaded in the meadow of dandelions. They run their cleats through the long, emerald grass. The bright lights make everything glare and are beaming down on me. I see the coaches doing their own version of jumping jacks trying to conduct their players around the field and base paths. Teammates are holding hands in the dugout in aspiration of a strike. I see the fans all on their feet, yearning for an out. The umpire and catcher are synchronized and crouch down. The runner on first weasels his way off the base and creeps toward second hoping not to be noticed. The batter is digging his cleats into the hard, red sand, and touching the plate ever so gently. He situates himself in his own designed pose and gets ready for the pitch. All eyes are on me and the ball.

The sounds rattle their way into my ears. I hear the blaring fans screaming at the top of their lungs and stomping their feet as if they were charging bulls. The wind is whistling across the field and introduces a couple of surrounding maple and pine trees to each other. It ruffles their leaves as it passes by. The coaches are howling orders to their players, causing me to flinch. The sound of gum bubbles popping can be heard through all the noise. The concession stand attendant is trying to drag spectators away from the exciting game with his bellows. The players are cracking open sunflower seeds and spitting them as far as they can. A car alarm blasts its way through and everyone is whispering, “I hope that’s not my car.” A truck with an excessively loud muffler passes the field. All of the noises ring in my ears and try to snatch my attention away from the pitch I’m about to throw.

Varieties of aromas drift with the wind and seem to swallow me in a whirlwind as they don’t leave me alone. The smell of sizzling hot dogs and bratwursts tempt me as they char on the grill. The smell of a freshly opened David’s Ranch Sunflower Seeds tickle my nose. The scent of mint gum whiffs by and coaxes me. The stench of sweaty players finds its way out of the reeking dugouts. The odor of a leather glove next to my face wanders around. Most of all, the scent of fresh air flows through my nose and catches me as I take a deep breath and relax.

The touch of a baseball game feels its way around my body. The sweat dripping down my forehead and back cools me down. The sun is tattooing a red tint onto my skin. A cool breeze smolders the sun’s blaze. The rough laces on the baseball softly meet my finger tips. The scuff spots on the ball help me determine which pitch to throw. The wet inside of my glove cools down my hand. Dust and dirt scratch my face as I wipe away the sweat. The strain of pitching is wearing on my shoulder and elbow. I just keep thinking it’s all down to me and forget the painful, burning, wet, and rough touch of the game.

I regain thought and my foot is striding toward home, and my body is following. My arm is falling behind building up its whip action. Then with a quick snap the ball leaves my grip. It soars toward home plate. The batter’s eyes widen as the ball is coming straight toward him. The ball is getting closer and he tries to swing but freezes as it bends right in front of him and into the catcher’s glove. “Strike three!” the umpire bellows as he punches the air. The batter walks back to his dugout with his head held down and his teammates are silent for the first time in the game. My teammates, coaches, and fans are all shouting and cheering. My team runs out to dance around the infield with me, as we have just won the game. The sights, sounds, smells, and touches of that baseball game will always be with me…





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