“Hey, look alive out there, Leonard!”

The field bore little resemblance to the landscaped visions we saw on television. There was no outfield fence. In place of dugouts was a small shanty for the home team, only a flat bench for the visitors. The backstop was inordinately distant from home plate. There was a treeline forty feet and uphill from the first base line; tennis courts laid downhill and thirty-five feet from the third base line. The heat had scorched the exposed field and I could hear the crunch of the crabgrass beneath my cleats as I walked through the infield. I could see the sand cloud at my feet as I walked past the bases as there were no water hoses to dampen the base paths. It was a dry and hot day on a typical baseball field in an ordinarily small rural town in central New York.

The home team, we were winning by one run with one out in the last inning when they got a base hit. They substituted a younger, faster player for the team’s starting first baseman, who also happened to be their football team’s starting left tackle. As our pitcher came into the stretch, our coach shouted words of encouragement to our first baseman. The pitcher looked over his left shoulder for a brief moment and turned to look to the catcher. Then, he quickly spun, whirling his right arm toward first base.

To be continued…

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