Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Bouguereau | Pastourelle
Shepherdess |
1889 | Oil on canvas |
159 x 93 cms | 62 1/2 x 36 1/2 ins |
The Philbrook Museum of Art | Tulsa | United States

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I have this short story committed to memory that still makes me cringe. It displays my remarkable ability to go out of my way to embarrass myself. Coaching was nothing like what I thought it would be. This story is about baseball.

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

When I called the recreation department to sign my son, Keller, up for his first year of baseball, the director told me that his name would be placed on a waiting list with ten other ball players until a new coach was found. I boldly Volunteered, as all the best of Tennessee had died at the Alamo.

The baseball director’s response to me was a go-ahead. All we need is just one chance, after all, we were only five year olds that had never played baseball before. With a new head coach at the top of the roster, our misfit team was now on the upswing.

This was going to be so much fun, I thought. I bought a bucket of baseballs and a bucket of bubble gum. I even bought a whistle to wear around my neck in case of an emergency. We practiced warm up drills, offensive drills and defensive drills like it was spring training. We were sure to be № 1 with all these detailed skills. If we don’t win it’s a shame.

When it came time for our first ball game, the umpire asked me who would be pitching. Here comes fortune and fame.

“Pitching?” I asked. “I thought this was T-ball.”

“No,” the umpire said. “This is coach pitch,” as he passed me a new game ball.

Taken with surprise, like a Persian cat who fell off the front porch batting at a dangling piece of string, I took the mound, mumbling to myself whether I would pitch underhand or overhand to my own batters. I knew I would have better accuracy underhand, but with ease I determined I was outta my league.

All I had to do was throw the baseball to the catcher’s mitt, but my catcher was standing at tihe backstop against the chain-link fence, armed without proper catcher’s gear. So instead I decided to aim for the imaginary strike zone somewhere between the batter’s chest and knees. There was nothing I could do at this point except cross my fingers that nothing else unexpected would happen. But I had surprise on my side!

The bleachers were watching and waiting, silent and still, when we heard a hollow thump echo around the ballfield. The ball fell dead in the dirt like a well intended bunt.

N∅T a bunt, but the best part. No joke; Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks! I had hit my own batter square in the chest with the baseball,.. and he was still standing in the batter’s box with his bat and elbows up, waiting on the next pitch. He didn’t even flinch! My whistle was blown for an ambulance called the come back chance. Someone should have painted pinstripes down my pants.

I maintained my game face, but inside I was horrified. I wanted to drill myself deep into the earth, but there was no place to hide in the center of the ball field except under my ball cap. I felt my entire body blush with embarrassment, but the only thing I could do was to brush it off, after all, one walk hadn’t løst the ballgame. I nodded to my batter, while I pointed to first, “Take a base, boy, someone will knock you home.”

§tacy §weeney