It was a cool autumn day, I was walking home from work and I saw these two kids playing stickball in the schoolyard. The kid who was hitting was taunting the pitcher along with some friends of his who were also taunting, while standing and watching.
The pitcher stood and smiled. From his smile, I think I knew what he was going to throw at that kid who was holding the broomstick like bat in his hands and rocking it back and forth, trying to be cool.
“OK loser, it’s 3 balls and 2 strikes – you have to throw a strike and I am aiming to hit that window on the old mans house just to piss him off.”
There was an old man who had lived forever across the street from the schoolyard. He lived alone and was a nice man; but when you are nice person a bully seizes upon that as if it’s a weakness.
As the kid with the broomstick kept taunting, the kid with the spalding just kept a stoic look on his face, save for a smile every couple of seconds. He was taking his time.
“Come on throw the ball you sleepy head. Stop being such a wuss.”
The kid went into his windup, looking like a schoolyard David Cone. As the ball left his hand the trajectory was high in the air, an eephus pitch. The hitter was not expecting this and he swung and missed as the ball bounced before hitting the strike zone painted on the wall.
The kid raised his arms up in triumph while the taunter started calling him a cheater. “That wasn’t a strike, it didn’t hit the wall!” He screamed.
“Yeah but you swung and missed.”
“I foul tipped the ball. Everyone heard it. Right guys?” He said pointing to his friends.
“Of course it did, even the old man across the street heard it and he isn’t even wearing his hearing aid.” They all laughed.
“Even Stevie Wonder saw it.” Laughter.
They kept at it – making fun of anyone that would come to mind.
“If you don’t throw another pitch that means you quit and I won. Cheater, get back there and throw a real pitch. Cheater! I won, I really won!”
“Hey pimple face get back and throw a real pitch, a man’s pitch.” He was taunting the pitcher again and this time it hit below the belt. I could tell he was upset but he kept his cool. There was so much to make fun of about this bully with the bat, but it wasn’t worth his energy. He knew he won and he would take the high road.
“Good game.” He said. That wasn’t good enough.
“What’s the matter, you have to go pop your pimples? Or does your mom do that for you while she is sitting on her wheelchair?”
He kept a cool exterior but inside he was fuming. How could this idiot make fun of my mother who is sick and confined to a wheelchair? Does he even know how much courage she has shown?
“Are you crying? Cry baby, cry baby.” They all were laughing and singing that cry baby song.
“I really won because you quit. Cheater! I won!” He thrust his arms up in triumph and the kid just let out a quick laugh and walked away.
While he was walking out of the school yard our eyes met and I told him, “Great pitch kid.” He smiled.