June 05, 2007
The great fly ball
Originally published September 3, 2004
I was about Quinton's age and playing center field for the Rotary Club little league baseball team. We played The Optimists, and they had a hitter that I went to school with. His name was David Ring and he was as big as a house.
David could knock a baseball flat on one side when he was six years old. By the time of that game, he had four years of practice to improve his slugging skills. If he caught a pitch just right, he was gonna sail that ball a long way. We all backed up in the outfield.
We had a good pitcher. I was the #2 catcher on the team, so I knew what kind of stuff our guy had. He could throw one hell of a fastball. He could damn near put a hole in your hand when you caught him. I KNEW that fact from experience.
But he hung one in the wheelhouse for David that day. I saw the ball come off the bat and I knew that it was over my head. I took off running as fast as I could over that ragged ground of old Coke Field, just off President Street, where many a young man earned his spurs playing ball. I can still remember seeing that baseball hurling through a clear blue sky as I ran to catch it.
I reached out my glove and dived for the ball. There was no person more stunned than I was when I went rolling ass-over-tea-kettle and ended up with the ball in my glove. It was a spectacular catch. People applauded. I tried to act cool as I threw the ball back to the infield, but I hoped I didn't have to do that again.
I wasn't really THAT good, but I did it that time.
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