Making the cut

Discussion created by cure on Apr 5, 2013

I wasn't much of an athlete when I tried out for the school baseball team. And the coach knew it. He thought that I was wasting his time. But a tryout is a tryout so I couldn't be denied my shot. I wasn't expecting to make the team. I was far from being good at baseball and there was a long-standing animosity between myself and the coach who was also my grade five teacher. I was sent up to bat. The pitch brushed the bottom of the strike zone. I hacked at it with all my might and, to my surprise, connected. I didn't manage to square it up, but hit it very sharply. It was a ground ball that scorched through the dry infield between first and second and careened into the out field. Without a thought, I was off after it for first. Then, to my surprise, I was off for second as the ball knifed into the gap between the centre and right fielders. At second I made a wide and confident turn for third. The third baseman gave no sign of readying himself to make a play. I might have trotted into the base with a standup triple. Instead I looked over my right shoulder. The ball was not on its way to third. The third baseman had not been trying to trick me, remember we were just kids. And the ball wasn't yet on its way to home either. The fielders were within a step of picking it up and within a step of crashing into one another. I shaded to the right and tried to give myself a decent angle for my turn for home. I was running flat-out, but I was no sprinter. I had endurance, which would later win me a place on the cross-country team, but didn't have speed, at least not over a short distance and not in a straight line. The catcher stood ready before me. He had not begun to block the plate or to field a ball bouncing in from the outfield, but he was well-positioned to do both. I pounded towards him, heedless of what was going on behind me, heedless of the teacher and coach whom I despised. There was no play at the plate. I had stretched a well-placed ground ball into a stand up, in the park, home run. I was sent to bat again. No doubt I couldn't get lucky twice. No doubt I would strike out miserably. No doubt I could be sent packing. I connected. It was a hit. This time it was a ground ball single. I made the team. Making the team meant participating in a one day tournament against five other schools. I would spend that day warming the bench. I was only put into the outfield for one inning late in a game and I didn't get a chance to make a play. But I got what a kid wants most. I got a day off school.