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Rodney at Bat

July 24, 2015

Rodney was nine years old and loved baseball. He was on a little league team with his older brother Daniel. Their dad was the coach of their team, the Braves. Rodney loved baseball, but he could not hit.

Rodney’s dad made him play in almost every game. Even when he pretended to be sick his dad put him in the game. Even when he really was sick his dad put him in the game. Rodney did not want to disappoint his dad by striking out all of the time. He didn’t want to embarrass his brother Daniel. He also didn’t want to be picked on by all of his teammates. He didn’t want to cause his team to lose.

Because he could not hit, he would swing wildly in hopes of hitting something. His dad made him stop doing that.

“Keep your eye on the ball, son. You can do it. I know you can,” his dad would say.

Rodney then began to not swing at any pitches at all, hoping he would be walked. This worked a few times before opposing teams caught on. Rodney began to strike out without ever swinging at anything.

The final game of the season came, and Rodney’s team would make it to the playoffs with a victory over the dreaded Blue Jays.

The game was close for all nine innings. The Blue Jays would score a run, then the Braves would score a run to tie the game. The Blue Jays would score two runs, and the Braves would come right back and score two more to tie the game again.

In the ninth inning however, the Blue Jays did not score a single run. The score was 9 to 9 going in to the bottom of the inning. Rodney had not been up to bat once the entire game. He liked it. He wanted his team to win, and didn’t want to ruin their chances.

The first two Braves’ batters in the bottom of the ninth reached first base with singles. The first of these was Rodney’s older brother Daniel. Rodney and his teammates were excited. They were tied with two on and no outs in the bottom of the ninth!

Unfortunately, the next two batters both struck out. It was getting tense. The fifth batter for the Braves walked on four straight pitches. Now the bases were loaded. The game was tied 9 to 9 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. It was now Wally Pipp’s turn at bat.

As luck would have it, Wally Pipp tripped on his way up the dugout steps and twisted his ankle. Rodney knew what this meant.

“Rodney! You’re up!” commanded his dad.

“What?! But Dad! My stomach hurts really bad! And I have a sore throat!” Rodney pleaded.

“You’ll be fine”, was his dad’s reply. “You can do it. I know you can.”

After all of the times he had let his team down, Rodney knew that his dad still believed in him. He took a big gulp and slowly walked up to the batter’s box.

He watched as the umpire brushed off home plate. He smelled the freshly cut grass and hot dogs. He felt the breeze blowing softly on his face. He could hear the fans cheering for him from the stands. These were the things he loved about baseball. He could also hear the groans of his teammates as he dug in at home plate, but one voice rang louder than all of the others. He could hear his dad cheering him on,

“You can do it Rodney! Keep your eye on the ball, son!”

There stood Rodney at bat. It was the bottom of the ninth inning. The score was 9 to 9. The bases were loaded. There were two outs. Rodney gulped another hard gulp as the first pitch flew towards him.

The ball seemed more to float towards him, as if in slow motion. The wait was long. He let it go by.

“Strike one!” yelled the umpire.

Rodney’s teammates, including his brother Daniel, groaned loudly in recognition of the familiar sight. Rodney waited for the next pitch. The ball floated past him again. Rodney did not move an inch.

“Strike two!” the umpire yelled again, reminding Rodney that this might be his last chance.

He waited for the third pitch. He saw it coming at him. The moment seemed frozen in time for Rodney. Then he remembered his dad’s words, “Keep your eye on the ball, son!” Then he did the unthinkable. He closed his eyes and swung at the ball as hard as he could, just as his dad had told not to do!

He heard a crack! He began to open his eyes. He thought, “Did I hit it?” Just then he realized that the crack he heard was not the ball hitting his bat. The ball had hit the side of his batter’s helmet. He fell to the ground in pain.

His team cleared the bench and ran out to him. They were coming to see if he was okay, but not just for that reason. His brother ran home from third, cheering wildly the entire way. He thought, “My own brother is happy that I got hurt?”

The entire team, his brother and dad included, picked him up on their shoulders in celebration. Rodney was confused.

“Rodney, you being hit by the pitch drove me in! We won! You did it!” explained his brother in excitement.

“I told you that you could do it”, his dad whispered to him. “You tried. I’m so proud of you.”

Rodney, though bruised from the force of the pitch, and in great pain, had never been happier in his life. He loved baseball.


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