I was 12 years old, and I was playing in the last Little League game of my life.
Next year, I’d be with the bigger boys, and I’d be playing on a major league sized field; the degree of difficulty significantly increased.
I wanted to make the most of my last Little League game!
I was having a friendly competition with a teammate; we were the two players from our team that made the all-star team that year. He was better than me; but I hustled…
He told me before the game that he was going to try and hit a home run. He said he would be swinging for the fences every time up. He was capable of hitting one out … I was not. I had a different goal; one more in line with my talent level. I wanted to reach base safely every time up.
I knew my best chance of getting on base was to bunt. I was a pretty good bunter.
So my first time at bat, I bunted, for a hit. Good start. He struck out, swinging.
My second time up, I again bunted for a hit. Two for two. Very good. He struck out again.
Third time up, yep! I bunted again; and again, safely. Three for three. Excellent! My friend struck out for a third time. (I think.)
For my last at bat — my last at bat of the game, of the season, and of my Little League career … I decided to go for it. I was going to adopt his strategy. No more playing it safe; no more bunting; I was going to swing away!
And swing away I did…
I hit a ground ball to the shortstop. A typical, innocuous ground ball that, more often than not, even in Little League, translates into an out.
But not today. Not on my last at bat!
I ran hard. As hard as I could.
I beat the throw … but was called out!
I could still remember jumping up and down, showing my 12-year-old exasperation (I know what you’re thinking, but no way! There is no crying in baseball!)
I don’t recall what my friend did in his last at bat. I’m thinking that if he did in fact hit a home run, I would’ve remembered that, but he just kind of faded from the picture after the injustice perpetrated by that umpire as I was trying to turn my last at bat swinging-away routine ground ball into an infield hit making my last little league game a perfect four-for-four…
The box score read: 3 for 4; 3 bunt singles; and a 6-3 ground out. No mention of “last at bat, swung away, ran hard, robbed.”
I think on this one I’m going to leave it to you to tease out the lessons. If there are any.
But there must be some, though; for, otherwise, it just would be even more than a little odd that I remember, from so long ago, so little a thing…
… as my last Little League at bat.