“Not a spirit of fear. Not a spirit of fear,” Johnny mumbled under his breath. “I can do this.” He stepped up to the plate, choked up on the bat, swallowed and stared at the pitcher.
The picture sized him up, nodded, wound up and pitched.
The ball whizzed past him, as he stood frozen in place.
The catcher tossed the ball back to the mound. “Wimp.”
Johnny ignored the taunt, determined to hit the ball this time.
“Atta boy, Johnny!”
Glancing over his right shoulder, he could just see his grandpa in the stands. He wanted to make him proud. Grandpa had always been his hero, but when he found out that his grandpa had been a minor league baseball star, he was even cooler. He wanted to be as good of a player as his grandpa.
However, one thing stood in the way. The ball. He now had the fear of being hit by the ball, after hearing how Grandpa had lost sight in his one eye after getting hit by a wild pitch.
Johnny shook his head and got his mind back in the game. “Keep your eye on the ball,” echoed in his head. He let out a deep breath, and refocused.
The wind up… the pitch… the pain.
The ball nailed Johnny right in the funny bone. He dropped his bat grabbed his arm, just as he heard a voice say, “Batter take your base.”
His first game, his first time at bat and he had to walk. He couldn’t even look at Grandpa.
The next player at bat was the team captain, Charlie, their best hitter. The ball came flying across the plate. Thwap!
Charlie sent the ball flying to the right field. Johnny just stood there for a moment, until he heard someone yell, “Run!”
So he did. He ran. He touched second base and kept going. He got to third, and realized that he might actually make it. As he headed home, the catcher was in front of him, holding the ball out, getting ready to tag Johnny out.
Only one thing to do. Slide.
Johnny dove for home plate, dust flew everywhere, he couldn’t see. He felt the plate just after he felt the ball touch his calf.
Standing up, Johnny brushed off the dust and walked back to the dugout, head hanging low. He was the third out. They had lost.
Two arms were soon wrapped around him, “Johnny, you did great!” Grandpa grinned.
“But, I had to walk and then I got out!” Johnny kicked at a pebble. “How did I do great?”
”You have to take it one base at a time, my boy, one base at a time. You’ll get ‘em next time. Let’s go get some ice cream.”
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