The fiction that follows was written by a man who obviously finds great hope, joy, and lessons on life in the game of baseball. His love for the game has inspired him to write a number of pieces on that theme, at least some of which he read together on the same evening as this one. With a close trimmed, white beard and haircut and an unassuming countenance, he presents the image of a fan who dreams often of games and players in an era gone by.
JillJill hugs her glove as she falls asleep. She seeks assurance from it that she will start tomorrow's Little League opener. She deserves it. She did everything she knows how to do during the last weeks of tryouts, practices, and scrimmages. She is one of the best all-around players on the team.
She kept her own batting average during intrasquad games and scrimmages. She ended up with a respectable .307. She never hit more than a double, and several of those were a result of her speed. She is fast. Everybody remarks on it. She consistently beat two thirds of the boys on the squad in sprints. But though she is not a power hitter, she always makes contact. She struck out only once in thirty-seven at bats in the pre season (on a called third strike - a bad call).
There is no better infielder on the team. She is sure handed and has great lateral movement. In their scrimmages, she was even in on turning a couple of rare Little League double plays - 4 to 6 to 3 and 6 to 4 to 3.
She is a cagey base runner. She scored more than all but two other players. Her speed and intuition and intelligence on the bases did not go unnoticed. So there is no reason she won't be starting tomorrow.
Except that she is a girl.
The only one on her team.
She already learned over the years how to handle the teasing and stares of the players. Dad taught her a very good lesson. On the field you speak with your play. She plays hard and well. The others on the team respect and trust her.
But she isn't sure about the coaches. It was obvious that they never put the best players on the same team for intrasquad play or scrimmages. Once, when she successfully slid into second to stretch a single into a double and scraped her elbow doing it, they seemed to be more worried about her than they would be if one of the others had done that. She hadn't cried or screamed, even though it burned like anything. She had just shaken it, blown on it a little. But the coaches rushed to second and fussed over her too much. They almost took her out for a pinch runner even though she was as smart and fast a base runner as anyone else on the team. She didn't understand that. After all, she hadn't injured her leg. It was just a scratch on her elbow.
So she doesn't know about the coaches.
Everyone is sure they'll put the best nine they have out on the field for a real game. But do they think she is the best second baseperson they have?
And eventually she drifts off to sleep...
This piece was posted here in May 2000.
Jill was revised on 10/13/99.
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