Someone Is Watching!
I have been waiting to have a page on the site where this story could be told, so I will make the initial submission to this page and hopefully others will follow with their stories.
It was late spring and the occasion an important conference game at home. Our opponent, a perennial rival through whom the road to the State Tournament generally traveled.
Entering the bottom of the 7th inning, trailing by 3 runs, we had managed to load the bases with 2 outs.
With our number 5 hitter coming to the plate, it was all on the line. Could he extend the inning? Get us closer to tying it up? Maybe even win it?
All those thoughts were running through my head, watching him from the third base coaches box.
As he settled in the box, the pitcher looked in for his sign. The atmosphere was electric!
The field was surrounded by fans. The stands were full, with people standing along both baseline fences as well as along the outfield fence, from center field to the right field line.
The at bat was proving itself worthy of the situation, as the count worked to 3-2, including a few pitches fouled off.
With each pitch, the tension mounted!
The pitcher went from the windup and delivered again. You could see he had made up his mind it was ending with this pitch, as he reached back to get that little extra on a fastball, which he sent screaming towards the plate; but this time the baseball flattened out in the middle of the plate.
Our hitter swung and you knew immediately at contact the ball was leaving the yard. Grand slam home run, bottom of the 7th, at home, important game. It's one of those dreams we all have from our earliest remembrances in the game.
The place was in bedlam and my spot in that coaches box was a perfect location to be able to watch it all unfold.
Good baseball story; but the best was yet to come, in the ensuing 10 minutes or so.
As was our custom, we gathered in our dugout to talk and wind down. The topic of conversation was easy that day and we were about halfway through when something caught my eye over at the end of the dugout.
Standing out in front of the dugout, just a few steps inside the field access gate, was a little boy, my guess 4-5 years old.
Was there something he needed?
He held out a baseball and asked,"where is the boy who hit the home run?"
The entire dugout went silent.
Pointing the player out to him, he headed straight at him and asked him if he would sign the baseball.
He had been standing outside the center field fence with his parents, had run and picked up the home run ball, coming all the way around the field to get it signed.
All those in and outside of the dugout were speechless. The player didn't know what to do; but with a pen supplied by one of our stat girls he signed the ball and the little guy proudly headed back to his parents.
Talking with players about their responsibility to younger kids, and that you never know who is watching, has always been a part of the program. On that day that concept visibly came to life for an entire group of players.
Someone is always watching!