Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)
TITLE: And The Winning Color Is...?
By Teresa Hollums
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The softball was about to be hit again by the small youngster at the bat. Oh, maybe not. Well, let’s try again. Every anxious parent leaned forward. Now the intimidating young pitcher for the “Red” team did his backward step to throw the ball. All the bases were loaded and this was the final win for one of the two sides. Most of the Red team members awaited the pitch with an anxious knot in each of their stomachs—except the shortest member who was in left field. His entire concentration was on, not the White team batter, but on the red ant bed, only a few feet from his position. The pitcher’s small fingers held the ball firmly. At home plate the White team player took his stance with sureness that this would just be a shoe-in.
“C’mon, Johnny, throw that ball right above the knee-e—C’mon Jake—hit it really hard so nobody can catch it.” “Red” screamed the Red team parents, and “White” was echoed back with even more ferocity. “Red!—White!—Red!--White!” And the stands began to vibrate with impatient feet pounding a fight song with each side echoing their team’s colors. The heat of the mid-summer day was beating down on everyone.
The left fielder’s mother remembered only yesterday her and her husband throwing the ball again and again to this son. Each one knew this son would never be the athlete that he wanted to be—there was just something missing. The boy had wanted to join Little League Baseball because everyone else did—but the mom and dad knew it was only that. His heart and attention was always somewhere else. It was always where you’d never guess—fighting imaginary dragons or trying to understand the ants. The mother smiled, but she knew that to be a baseball player who would not be chosen last (as he had been this time) again, he just had to work at it more. He just had to really, really concentrate. And so she crossed her finger and she waited in suspense.
And then the pitcher turned loose of the ball. It soared skyward. It then arched high and headed right for the batter. The batter smiled confidently and knew that, if he just arched his swing up just a little more, he could knock that ball for a good home run—if it was just hard enough.
Then the amazing whack resounded in the stands and all watched in silence as the ball did arch into the air and then seemed to hang there in suspense—right above—let’s see—right above… “Oh, no, it’s going to hit him right in the head—oh, please, please, little son, look up,” she whispered to herself.
The small left fielder suddenly felt the now gravity-powered softball hit his cap and bounce the cap off his head. Finally, he did look up and then desperately made a lunge for the ball that now was rolling off into far left field. He ran as quickly as he could and fumbled as he finally got the ball to stop rolling. Then he drew back and tried to throw it as hard as he could. It barely made it to second base—but it was all too late—just too late. The White team scored four, killing runs. And the small boy just sat down on the field, and then finally got up to be with his team mates, who now fairly well were fussing at him.
The game ended. The mom and dad waited for their baseball player to find them in the stands and no one said a word. On the way home, the mom asked, “Son, didn’t you see that ball coming?”
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