By V. J. Pacilio
Three outs remained in the championship game. At stake; the Tri-County crown.
The hometown Midvale Marauders were up, but were currently one run down.
The Bay City Bears held a 3 to 2 lead with just one-half an inning to play.
The last of the ninth, though, began with great promise. A rally was now under way.
The first two Marauders had safely reached base in the persons of Josephs and Hawke.
The former led off with a single to left; the latter was on with a walk.
Up to the plate now stepped Timothy Tyler – a willowy wisp of a kid;
So skinny you’d swear a stiff gust might upend him (and every so often, one did!)
A right-handed batter with wonderful leverage, his long arms hung down to his knees.
He’d whip-lash the bat ‘cross the plate with such speed, it would cool off the fans with the breeze.
A splendid spray hitter, he used the whole field, lining gappers to left or to right.
To see Tyler standing on second or third base was not an unusual sight.
But right now a double or triple was not what his manager wanted from Tim.
Advancing both runners to scoring position was all he expected from him.
The third base coach flashed 6 quick signs. Not one did Tim understand.
But, then, number 7 was clearly the message – he brushed his left cheek with his hand.
Now Timothy knew, when the signing was through, that a sacrifice bunt was the call.
The runners on first base and second acknowleged. The pitcher delivered the ball.
Tyler squared ‘round to lay the ball down, but the pitch came in outside and low.
The next two deliveries weren’t even close. The count was now 3 and 0.
The pro-Midvale crowd began whooping it up. They sensed the sacks soon might be filled.
The pitcher was off the mound wiping his brow as the tension continued to build.
Now Timothy knew that the 3 and 0 pitch would likely be right down the pike.
The third base coach, though, was flashing the take sign. He yelled, “Make him show you a strike.”
But Timothy Tyler had other ideas. A hero he wanted to be.
He knew that a gapper would drive in both runs, and Midvale would win 4 to 3.
In came the pitch, just as Tim had expected it, right down the heart of the plate.
His good senses reasoned to let it go by. The rest of him just wouldn’t wait.
Around came the bat as the baseball approached. When they met, the ball sped on it’s way.
Unfortunately, it went one-hop to short for a 6-4-3 doubleplay.
Fans in the stands sat in stunned disbelief; His teammates stood frozen in shock.
Just when it seemed that their ship had come in, they watched it crash into the dock.
Instead of the sacks being filled with Marauders, and victory well within sight;
There now were two outs, with a runner on third, and the Bears poised to turn out the light.
The crowd, though, soon let out a sigh of relief, for now stepping up to the dish
Was the very best stick in the Tri-County League – First baseman Eli McLish.
But Wait, what was this? The umpire in charge was holding both hands in the air.
“Time out,” he yelled, then removing his mask, he approached Midvale manager Blair.
The two men conversed, (Blair kept nodding his head), then what happened next seemed absurd.
The manager motioned McLish to the bench without even saying a word.
“The rules of the league,” the ump had reminded him, “State quite specifically that
Every player that’s dressed for the game must get at least one turn at-bat.”
With two outs, now, in the last of the ninth, this rule sealed Midvale’s fate.
For the only player who hadn’t yet hit was slowly approaching the plate.
The tall, slender figure stepped into the batter’s box, sporting the number 13.
The crown gasped as one, as they now realized, the pinch-hitter was KC Chardeen.
In the previous 30 games played this season – in 30 at-bats in all,
KC Chardeen’s bat had not – as of yet – been introduced to the ball.
30 straight strikeouts, the record books showed. One more would kill the dream.
Three more strikes and the season would end for this gallant Midvale team.
The visiting players were already starting their victory celebration,
As KC stood there in the batter’s box, awaiting this next confrontation.
From the Bay City pitcher, now, came the express. His fastball divided the plate.
KC’s bat lumbered to greet it in flight, but arrived a full second too late.
This sequence repeated itself one more time. “Strike 2,” the ump would proclaim.
The fans began leaving – unable to watch the final pitch of the game.
The pitcher peered in, not needing a sign, with a look of intimidation,
As KC stepped back in the batter’s box after weighing the situation.
That hurler served up one last helping of heat, his velocity never decreased.
But this time Chardeen started swinging the bat before the ball was released.
The heater arrived at the heart of the plate, but proceeded no farther than that.
For, rather than meeting the mitt of the catcher, it met up with KC’s bat.
The exiting crowd was stopped in their tracks by the sound of the bat on the ball.
As they turned to watch, that baseball was heading straight for the leftfield wall.
The leftfielder raced to the base of the fence, then he leaped as the spheroid neared.
At the peak of his jump, his glove snapped shut and the baseball disappeared.
Back down to earth that outfielder came, with whatever he’d caught up above.
As he lay on the ground in a crumpled heap, he was holding aloft his glove.
One way or another, the ballgame was over. All eyes were now on that mitt.
The Tri-County Champion would soon be determined by what was inside of it.
The umpire quickly arrived on the scene at the base of the leftfield wall.
He looked in the glove…. thrust his right arm high…. and made the official call.
(With appologies to E. L. Thayer)
Oh, somewhere in this great, vast land, the rain is pouring down.
A band is playing out of tune in some forgotten town.
And somewhere tears are being shed, and somewhere life is hard.
But today there’s joy in Midvale; Mighty KC has gone yard.
A look of shocked elation graced the multitude of faces,
as the umpire circled his hand in the air, ………………………………..
and Katherine circled the bases.
THE BALLGAME GLOSSARY OF TERMS (IN ORDER OF USE)
GAPPER(S) A hard hit ball that falls between two outfielders and then rolls or bounces to the fence (if there is one) before either fielder can reach it, allowing the batter to reach second or third base. (The 2 spaces between the 3 outfielders are referred to as the gaps).
SCORING POSITION Base runners on second and/or third base are considered ‘in scoring position’ since, more often than not, they will score on a hit to the outfield by the batter.
FLASHED 6 QUICK SIGNS Signs are predetermined gestures or motions that convey information, usually from a coach or manager to a player at bat and/or on base. To confuse the opposition, a number of meaninless sign are flashed (given quickly) together with the intended sign. Signs for bunting and base stealing are the most common, and these signs are changed for each game (and often during a game) to keep the opposition from stealing them.
SACRIFICE BUNT A bunt, resulting in moving the runner(s) into scoring position as the batter is thrown out at first base.The batter ‘sacrifices’ an out to accomplish this.
SQUARED ‘ROUND…to…. LAY THE BALL DOWN Getting into position to lay down a bunt.
COUNT The count refers to the number of balls and strikes. The first number always indicates the number of balls and the second number refers to the number of strikes. Thus, a count of 3 and 0 (0 is usually pronounced like the letter o) would equate to 3 balls and no strikes.
RIGHT DOWN THE PIKE Directly over the middle of the plate; the easiest pitch to hit when you know its coming.
‘TAKE’ SIGN A pre-arranged sign from a coach or manager to a hitter that says “do NOT swing at the next pitch under any circumstances”.
6-4-3 DOUBLEPLAY To make scorekeeping easier, each defensive position is assigned a number (the pitcher is 1, the catcher is 2, etc.) A 6-4-3 double play (a play resulting in 2 outs) denotes a ground ball initially hit to the shortstop (6) who throws it to the second baseman (4) who steps on second base and then throws the ball to the first baseman (3) who is standing on first base.
TURN OUT THE LIGHT Victoriously end the game.
DISH Home plate.
EXPRESS, HELPING OF HEAT, HEATER All three expressions refer to the pitcher’s fastball.
MITT The baseball Glove.
SPHEROID The baseball.
GONE YARD Hit a homerun.
CIRCLED HIS HAND IN THE AIR With arm raise, this is the umpire’s signal that the ball has gone over the fence for a homerun.