This story doubled as a personal experience essay and a speech for a public speaking competition. It hasn't held up that well, but at the time I thought it was good stuff
THE GREAT SACRIFICE
DEAN A. ANDERSON
As I look back on my sporting career, I would say my season of baseball was the season least likely to inspire awe. Baseball was simply not my sport. Not that it is possible for one to own a sport as one would own a corporation, but I’ve always felt that if it were possible, I would have fewer shares in the cooperation of baseball than would anyone else in the world.
The team was comprised of half of my fifth grade class. Our slogan was, “It matters not if you win or lose, but how you play the game”, a slogan which was adopted after our fifth loss.
The season did have one highlight. That was the play that one of my team mates claimed would “go down in the anals of baseball history.” That play was the Great Sacrifice.
The air was crisp and the sun beat down on the field, as it always does moment before a crucial play in literature.
Our team was playing the class two rooms down. The score was 33 – 34, and we were down by one. I felt part of the blame since I was playing left field when the tying and leading run came in.
I had played left field since the team was organized the first day of practice. We played work-ups to decide positions. Since my underhand pitches tended to be a bit high, and also tended to play heck with the radar of low flying planes, it was decided I was not to pitch. I would be in left field, a place I never really left.
This was unfortunate since at the time I had a great fear of having my skull based by a baseball. A friend had told me that many people had been killed by pennies dropped from the Empire State Building. While I knew no one in our league could a ball as high as the Empire State Building, I also knew a softball is many times larger than a penny an potentially more dangerous.
I had barely escaped a fly ball coming straight for me in the previous inning, that could have done much more damage than the knocking in of two runs if I hadn’t stepped out of the way.
The bases wer loaded and I was in the batting box. Even Ronny Lut had made it to first. Ron did not excel in baseball since his size was more suited to football and his co-ordination was more suited to tic-tac-toe, and unfortunately neither sport was offered.
His lack of trust in his fellow team mates was another handicap. His trust seemed to vanish the day our first baseman challenged him to a test of strength. The first baseman quickly crushed a glob of clay between two fingers. Ron crushed his glob of clay with a tack in it a bit faster. Ron never forgot his painful lesson in the skin’s sensitivity to sharp objects.
Actually, I was the only person on the team Ron trusted, because I had pushed him into a mud puddle the day he wet his pants, and because I was the only person below him in the batting order.
Tension grew in me as I stepped to the plate. Encouragement came from the dugout as a cute, young blond girl cried gently, “Don’t screw up, you big klutz!”
As I looked around at the players in the field, they seemed to be moving in. Nerves play such tricks on the mind.
The runner on third base seemed ready to come in to home, then into the dugout at any moment, although the same could be said for Ron on first and the girl on second.
I turned cool, steel eyes on the pitcher, who spat on the mound. His first pitch I let pass, and it was a strike. The second pitch I swung at and it was a strike.
As I stood wondering if it made any difference if I swung or not, the third pitch came and I did swing.
I stood in awe at the ball rose in the air and hid itself in the sun. I did not see it again until it fell plop on the pitcher’s mound. The pitcher calmly threw the ball to the first basegirl. Giddy at the chance to make a double play, she overthrew the second baseman who had chosen an inopportune time to dust his plate. My dugout yelled for the base runners to take the free base for an overthrow. Ron stood idle between first and second, not believing the dugout. He finally move to second when I yelled, “You can move or I hope to die, fifty needles in my eye, or finger.”
Just as Ron reached second base, the centerfielder just caught up to the ball as he cursed his fortune to have a female at first base. He then picked up the ball and overthrew the pitcher, but in a very masculine fashion.
The catcher then chased the ball and picked it up. To this day, the catcher swears that it was spirits that made him again overthrow the pitcher.
The whole team congratulated my brilliantly planned sacrifice that had knocked in three runners and had given us the lead.
Then, the bell rang and the ump said that our classes would have to play a rematch some other lunch time, since we had played only two innings and any real game had to have at least three innings. In the rematch we played three innong ant the game was won by the other class.
The ump was the other class’s teacher, and no one questioned his intergrity...Outloud. Besides, my mother had always assured me that a teacher’s integrity was as unquestionable as the integrity of the President of the United States.
Even though we lost the rematch, I slept wll that night, as I’m sure Ron did, having experienced one moment of baseball glory.
I did have one other pleasant thought that might before I went to sleep. President Nixon was probably no good at baseball either.