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By Joe Lewellen
Hi my name is Jason. My dad and I went to baseball practice every Saturday afternoon. I played centerfield. One Saturday when we got to practice, some of my team mates were already there, throwing the ball, batting and other various training. When they saw me, they just shook their heads, as if they wished I had never come.
You see, I was not the best player on the team. Actually I was the worst. I couldn't catch, run, or bat very well. It wasn't that I didn't try, I just didn't seem to be able to get things right.
The coach called me over, and told me that he wanted me to do some batting practice. So I put my game bag in the dug out and grabbed my bat. When I got up to the batting box, I was nervous. I didn't want to look bad in front of my dad, or my team mates.
When I got up to the plate, I readied my bat and waited for the ball. The pitcher threw the ball and was able to get it past me pretty easy. He threw it again, and once again he was able to get it by me. I heard my dad yell "you can do it son!" So I dug my feet in and was determined to hit the ball so my dad would be proud of me.
He threw the ball and I swung at it. It went right past me again. I looked at my dad, he gave me a you can do it look, but I think he was trying to make me feel good. After a bad day at practice, it was time to go home. For me it was the best part of practice. I knew I couldn't screw that up.
When we got home, I took my uniform off and got dressed in regular clothes. Still feeling a little down I decided to take a walk around my neighborhood. I noticed a man sitting on his front porch. He was rocking in his porch chair looking right at me. There was something about his stare that caught my attention.
As I kept walking the man didn't take his eyes off of me the whole time. He got up out of his chair and called out to me. "Young man, can I talk to you a minute?'' he said. Now my mom and dad had always said not to talk to strangers, but there was something about him that seemed okay, like he was not a threat or going to hurt me. So I said sure. What would you like to talk about I said cautiously.
"I saw you at baseball practice today." Oh great; he knows I suck too. "I think I have a solution to your problem" he said. My ears perked up, and my curiosity got the best of me. "I saw you had a few problems at practice today." Well a few is putting it lightly I said.
"I used to have problems just like you when I was about your age. But a man came to me just like I am to you. Do you want to know what he said?" Sure I said with enthusiasm. "He told me he had a cure for all of my problems. He said that he had a bat that would help me."
"Not just any bat, but a magic bat." A magic bat I said? Yes a magic bat. "And you know what; it helped me." So why are you telling me this? I said. "Because like the man who gave it to me, I want you to have this bat. You have the heart for the game and I think it will be just the thing for you."
Okay, how much do you want for the bat so I can ask my dad for the money to give to you? "Oh you can't buy it, it's not for sale." Then how am I supposed to get the bat? "I am giving it to you."
I don't know what to say. "Don't say anything, just have fun and remember it's in you." Thank you sir. And with that I was off to my house.
The next day after school, I had baseball practice, except this time I had my bat with me. My coach told me to get up to the plate to practice hitting. I was nervous, but remembered the bat that was given to me; it gave me a little confidence.
So I grabbed my new bat out of my bag and stood at the plate, bat ready. The ball was pitched; I swung the bat and heard a strange noise. It was the crack of the bat when I hit the ball. It flew all the way into the outfield, almost going out of the park for a home run.
My eyes got big, I couldn't believe it, and I actually hit the ball. So they pitches me another, same thing, I hit the ball. Way out into the outfield. My coach was amazed, so amazed that he didn't know what to say.
"Jason t he coach said, I would like you to go out to the outfield and try catching a few fly balls that I that I hit to you." Okay coach I said as I went and got my glove and headed to the outfield. When I got out there I took my place in the out field. Okay coach I'm ready. I felt a little nervous, because I had a magic bat, but that didn't make me any better in the outfield.
The coach hit the first ball, and it went deep into the outfield. I ran after it and had to jump to catch it. To my dis-belief I actually caught the ball. WOW! I caught it. He hit another one and same thing, I caught it.
"Jason I am impressed. Have you been practicing at home? He said. To tell you the truth...no. "Well let's see how you do in the infield." Now I was really nervous. I haven't ever played in the infield before. He put me at second base and hit a few balls towards me. Amazingly I caught every one.
After practice, my dad told me that he knew I could do it. That made me feel good. Saturday came and it was our first game of the season. The coach put me in center field and I waited in anticipation for the time to use my new catching skills. I didn't have to wait long, because the first batter hit a deep centerfield ball. I ran back after it, and caught the ball for an out.
Finally it was our turn at bat. The other team had scored a couple of runs while it was their turn at bat. We were tied at five, with two outs. It was the bottom of the ninth and it was my turn to bat.
The pitcher from the other team knew from the previous season that I wasn't that good and didn't seem worried. But I felt confident, because I knew I had a magic bat and I was going to be able to hit the ball. He threw his first pitch and I hit the ball out of the park. HOME RUN! We won the game.
My dad was in the bleachers screaming and dancing all around. I looked at him proudly, because I knew for sure he was proud of me. After the game, my dad took me out to get some ice-cream to celebrate my very first win. I couldn't stop smiling.
When we got home, I ran into the house. MOM!…MOM! We won the game, and guess what, I hit the winning ball! "That's great Jason, I am so proud of you. What would you like for supper? Your choice she said. Well I really like spaghetti. "Done...we are having spaghetti."
After supper I washed up and got ready for bed. I couldn't stop thinking about the game and how great it felt. Tomorrow I am going to go to that mans house and thank him for his gift.
I got up the next day and walked over to the mans house. I couldn't believe it. The house I had seen him at just a couple of days ago was run down and looked liked nobody had ever lived there for years. I walked up to the porch, but there was nobody there. I was confused. Where did he go, and why was the house run down like that. It looked like he had never been there. Well I was still very thankful for his gift. I went back home, still a little confused about the whole thing and went inside to get some breakfast.
When I walked inside, my mom was making breakfast. "Good morning honey, how's my little champion? She said. Good mom, what are you cooking? "Just eggs and bacon, your favorite, Come and have a seat at the table and I will get you a plate."
"So, what do you have planned for the day"? She asked. Not much, just hanging around and maybe ride my bike. "Okay sweety, just be careful. Okay mom. I went outside and walked around the block to see if any of my friends were out doing anything.
I saw Jeff working on his bike; he had it upside down trying to fix the chain. Hey Jeff what's up? I said. "Just trying to tighten my chain on my bike, it keeps coming off when I ride it." Is there anything I can do to help? I asked. "Sure. You can pull on the tire while I tighten the chain." Okay so after a few minutes we finished tightening his bike chain. Want to go bike riding? I said. "Sure, I will wait for you here while you go get your bike."
I went and got my bike and headed over to his house. We rode our bikes around town for a while, and then decided to go home. Because I was getting tired and wanted to relax a little bit. While I was in the living room, I thought it would be a good idea to get my bat and ball and go to the park to practice hitting the ball.
When I got to the park, I found an open area to hit the ball without hitting other people that were playing. I pulled the bat and ball out of my bag and looked around just to make sure there was no body around, I didn't see anyone and I threw the ball up and swung the bat. I hit the ball pretty far, and had to run all the way across the grassy field to go get the ball. So I thought to myself, I could use a friend to hit the ball to.
I went back to my friend Jeff's house and asked if he wanted to go to the park and hit the ball back and forth. "Sure, I haven't played ball for a long time." So I went to my house and got my glove and bat. Jeff brought his glove and we were off the park.
We got to the park and we went to the grassy field I had been earlier. Okay Jeff, you go to that end of the field, and I will hit the ball to you. "Okay, then he ran across the field. I hit the first ball; he had to run back just to catch it.
"Jason! I didn't know you could hit a ball that far." Well to tell you the truth, I never was able to before, but this old man down the street from me gave me this magic bat, and since then, I have been able to hit balls farther, and not just that, but I can catch better too.
"Jason, can I try your bat?" Sure Jeff, give it a try. So I handed him the bat, and ran across the field. Okay Jeff, give it a shot, I said. So Jeff tossed it up and went to swing at it, he hit it, but it go very far.
I was shocked that he couldn't hit the ball like I did. After all, it was a magic bat. Try again Jeff! I yelled. So once again, he tossed the ball up and hit it only a short way. Okay Jeff, let me try again.
Jeff handed me the bat and ran across the field.
Ready? Go ahead he said. So I tossed the ball up and hit it way out there, just like before. I don't know why, but I was able to hit it. Jeff got tired of only hitting the ball a short distance. So he told me he wanted to go home. Okay, we left the park, I felt a little sorry for Jeff, because he couldn't hit the ball like me, even though I told him it was a magic bat. I went back home, because it was almost time to eat supper anyway. So after supper it was time to go to bed, because I had to go to school in the morning.
The next morning when I got to school, all of my team mates met me in the hallway. "Hey Jason, what a game we had Saturday wasn't it?" Yeah it was, hope we do just as good, next game. "I'm sure we will, especially if you keep hitting like you did at the last game." Just then the bell rang; it was time to go to class.
After school it was time to go to baseball practice. When I got to the field, my mind was still on the day at the park with Jeff. Why couldn't he hit the ball? I pushed the thought out of my mind and went to the outfield were I always went during practice.
"You're playing second base, get over here". Okay and I ran to the infield. The pitcher threw the ball and hit right at me. I dove for it, but couldn't quite get to it. What was happening? Why didn't I catch the ball? The pitcher hit another one straight at me. I had to dive it again. Once again, I came up empty.
"Okay Jeff, go get your bat, and try a little batting practice. So I walked up to the plate, and got ready to hit. I readied my bat and the pitcher threw a fire ball straight down the middle of the plate. I swung at it, and missed. He threw another. Once again I missed. What was going on? I thought it was a magic bat.
After practice, I was discouraged, I did so well during the game, and now I couldn't catch, I couldn't, hit and all around I was doing awful. When I got back home, my dad asked me how practice went. Well…I didn't do that well, I couldn't hit, I couldn't catch and I looked like did before the game.
I put my school bags on the couch and went outside. I was walking down the street were the old man had given me the bat.
When I got there, he was sitting on the porch. Now I was confused not to mention a little scared. The old man gestured for me to come over with hand. So I went over to him.
Hi I said. "So how did you do at the game?" I did really well. Then last week I went to the park and hit the ball great like at the game. I was so excited, that I went and got my friend Jeff, and asked him to come hit the ball with me.
When I hit the ball, I hit way past my friend. He asked me how I was able to hit the ball so far. I told him it was because of the magic bat. He asked to try the bat, so I did. He wasn't able to hit the ball far at all.
I guess the bat didn't work for him. "I see" the old man said. How about practice?" Well that didn't go so well either. "That's interesting; do you want to know what makes the bat magic?" Yes I would. "You do." Wait, hold on a minute, you said it was magic, how can I be the reason? I couldn't play before the bat, and after I got the bat, I could play.
"Yes, that's true that you did better after you got the bat, but because you believed it was magic." But it was you who said it was. Besides I did do better after receiving the bat, and all of a sudden it didn't work. "Yes that true, but only because all you had to do was believe in yourself". What do you mean? "What I mean is you always had the talent, you just didn't think so. That's why your friend wasn't able to do as good as you." So there was no magic in the bat all along? "No, but what the bat did do, was give you the confidence that you needed."
Oh…so your telling me that I was always able to do those things without the bat? "Yes, now that you know that, you can play with confidence, because you now know that you have the ability to play like you did when you believed it was magic." I thanked the man, and went home. I could always do it, but didn't think so. The next Saturday, we had another game.
I remembered what the man down the street told me. So when it was my turn to bat, I was a little nervous, but determined. The pitcher wound up and threw the ball down and left. I hit the ball out of the park. Yeah! I can do it. We didn't win the game, but I knew something I didn't know before.
All you have to do is believe in yourself, and you can do what ever you desire. Keep believing….