Betwixt and between II

*Continued from July 23


Did they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

“Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less how to connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so that Shay could at least make contact.

“The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay should have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

“Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all teammates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first.’ Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second.’

“Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on the team – who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the third baseman for a tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions, so he too intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.

“Shay ran toward third base delirious as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the way, Shay.’ Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third, Shay, run to third.’ As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home. Run home.’ Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

“‘That day,’ said the father softly, with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world.’ Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy and coming home and seeing his mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day.”

That’s what I call teamwork, compassion and true sportsmanship well taught.

I met my Little Lady by simply walking across the road from my boarding house on a daily basis at lunch hour to help her mother lift her younger, early-teen brother, a victim of cerebral palsy with the prognosis of late teen death, from his wheelchair to his walker.

Though never gaining the ability to walk, talk or feed himself, we were blessed with Lornie’s broad smile and spirited gleam in his eye into his 52nd year. And I was rewarded with well over 52 years of marriage to his sister, my one and only Little Lady, though walking now hand in hand with angels, her memory fills strongly the hunger that lingers deep within the depth of my satisfied heart.

Take care, ’cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins