FanPost

The day I hit a home run in Little League

I have always loved baseball, but when you get down to it I was never very good at it, even by backwater rec league standards.

Maybe you played in one of those leagues at some point in your life - the all-dirt infield, which was in some ways preferable to a grass field at an elementary school where people just let their dogs run around and didn't pick up after them, so you never knew when you might step in dog crap. We called them land mines back then.

Not long after kids started to pitch themselves, some coach decided I should be a catcher. Life-long four-eyes that I am, what this actually meant is that I had to wear an ill-fitting catcher's mask that didn't entirely sit right over top of my Rec Specs (oh yeah). What's more, being as I am left-handed, I could not use the catcher's mitt that was provided to the team - so I had to just catch pitches with my regular glove. It was not fun and I stopped playing soon after that.

Before I hung it up, I had one great moment that I still remember to this day. For most of my baseball tenure I was on the same team as a kid who was my best friend. As we got a little older our friendship became strained - we were just growing into different people. The last year that I played baseball, he was on a different team than me. Since he was tall and a lefty, that meant he was a pitcher, and he was better than the rest of us.

Towards the end of the season, my team was playing his and things lined up the way they do for a legend - bases loaded, two outs, my team trailing by three, and who was to step up to the plate but... me. I wasn't that kid who would always make them shout, "Move in!" but I wasn't too far removed from that level and I knew it and so did he. The chances were not good - and even worse after my friend pumped two strikes and I quickly faced an 0-2 count.

Then he grooved me a pitch. To this day, I am not sure if he grooved me a pitch because he felt bad for me and he was my friend, or if he was firing his hardest fastball right down the middle because we got into a fight the day before and he thought he could embarrass me by blowing a ball past me. But I can tell you this: I was angry at him and I put every bit of that anger into the swing and somehow, I connected. PING!

The ball flew and it just kept flying. You know how it goes with one of those fields. There's no fence, no grounds rules. If it's fair you just go and you keep going. And so I went, my too-big helmet flying off as I rounded second, thinking I'd be stopping at third, my only triple. But then the third base coach was waving me home and so I came around third too.

By then the complicated series of relays to get the ball towards the plate was underway. I could see this out of the corner of my eye. Oh no, I thought, I would be out. As it turned out, the catcher dropped the last throw and I slid in - safe! Game over!

I don't remember what happened afterwards any more, honestly. In my imagination it's something like the reaction to the Delmon Young double - teammates knocked over at the plate like bowling pins, a crowd going wild. I don't know. What I remember is my friend walking off the mound, angry at having lost the game. It was years before we spoke again.

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