My reputation precedes me. People know what I have done even before they know me. I am not a superstar nor am I a great player. I am a good player who happened to do a great thing.
My claim to fame happened two years ago and people are still talking about it. I get recognition today even though I have never come close to duplicating that feat again.
When people introduce me they say, “He’s the guy who hit that home run that put us into State.”
That’s me. I hit the home run that sent Westside to the state championship. We lost but people don’t seem to remember that. Or maybe they just choose not to. It doesn’t really matter because that game has gone down in the record books. Everybody says they were at that game but they lie. We were away and very few fans showed up. To hear people tell it, the whole town was there.
It was the top of the 8th, one out and one on. I was up to bat. I was not having the best game. I was 1 for 3 with two strikeouts. We were down by one and normally I would have been nervous. But this time I figured if I struck out it would not end the inning. And we still had one more to go. I figured no matter what I did I would be okay.
I stepped in the batter’s box and quickly took two strikes. I stepped out and stalled for some time. There was no way I was going to get out that quickly.
I looked into the crowd to see if I recognized anyone. I didn’t.
I’m a sucker for pitches low and outside. I swing at them more than I should. It’s a weakness in my game and most opposing teams know this. The next pitch I got wasn’t very low or outside. It was right where I like it.
When I made contact the bat vibrated all the way down to my hands. The ping echoed in my ears. I have to admit that I couldn’t see where the ball went at first. I was stuck between home plate and first base. I didn’t want to look like an idiot running around the bases if the ball was foul or I flied out.
I finally saw the left fielder running back towards the fence. The ball carried over his glove and just cleared the fence. I ran around the bases with my arms in the air.
We shut them down in the bottom of the 8th and 9th. At that point my fate was sealed. I was a hero. My team carried me off the field. It felt incredibly awkward but I went along with it. From that moment on I could do no wrong.
We lost by six runs in the state championship.