|The mighty Ball Player|
On evenings when no game was being broadcast, and once all of the animals had been properly tucked in for the night, those same hired men would challenge each other - and any one else who could swing a bat - to a game of pick-up.
In the barnyard. (Remember what I said about size . . .?)
I was always parked safely atop the fence and charged with the solemn duty of being the sole member of the audience.
They told me it was because I was the best at cheering. But I knew differently. It was because they feared my 'heavy hitter' status.
Well, if they wanted me to cheer. Cheering was what they would get.
Enthusiasm, I had.
Unfortunately, staying power, I didn't.
Inevitably, something would distract me. A cat. Dog. Butterfly. Imagined cat, dog or butterfly. Clouds. Grass.
And quite often, the game went far past my all-important bedtime - which, I might point out, came while the sun was still high in the sky and which was a terrible waste of daylight, in my opinion.
But I digress . . .
It was the most magical Saturday. One in a summer. When the haying is finished and the evening chores are still hours away.
Time for the annual Saturday afternoon baseball game.
Even my mom left her evening meal preparations and myriad other duties and joined us. (I should point out here that Mom was probably the best hitter of the lot - a fact that rather irked most of the hired men.)
My Mom, Dad and brother, George, were playing on a team with two of the men. My elder brother Jerry, sister Chris and four other men made up the other side.
I was, once more, on the fence.
The game was pretty much tied up.
Whatever that meant.
Al was up to bat and there was a strange gleam in his eye.
Everyone gasped and winced when the tinkle of breaking glass reached us a split second later.
Our only ball disappeared inside.
Time was called as everyone scrambled towards the barn.
Al was left at home plate, still clutching the bat, a look of horror on his face.
For the next half-hour, we searched for that ball.
The shattered window bore mute evidence of it having passed this way. But it was not to be found.
And chore time was fast approaching.
And people were talking about Al's hit as having been 'over the fence'. There were several long faces as the members of the opposite side acknowledged that Al's team had just drawn into the lead by one run.
Those people frantically began sifting through the hay in the mangers. The straw on the floor.
Still no ball.
"Where was it?" Dad asked.
"What?" Everyone clustered around.
"I dunno. I just found it sitting here on the windowsill."