Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"You're Killin' Me Smalls..."

Last Sunday whilst strolling with the dogs through one of the large fields at the VA complex, I spied a baseball in the tall grass.  A baseball.  There was no explanation for it. I rolled it with my toe, thinking maybe it was a dog's fetch ball, but no, it was pristine, no slobber, teeth marks, rips or tears.  For a second I pondered taking it for Max, but changed my mind; the only toy in the world for him is Bunny, and Ozzy's too small for anything larger than a golf ball.

I walk about ten feet then stop.  During my tomboy years, I was a serious baseball player. Not many could hit my fast ball when I was pitching.  I look over my shoulder at this clean, white ball, the alluring red stitching...and can't resist.

The feel of it in my hand is perfect.  I'm twelve again...standing sideways to the plate, secret signal to the catcher, quick look at first base, then the wind-up and pitch.  I can almost smell the dust, feel the Summer heat on my back.  Smiling, I toss the ball in the air a few times then take it with me. The dogs might not need a baseball, but I guess I do...

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This morning I'm almost the entire way around the soccer fields beside the river, the dogs are panting, clouds are breaking up and it's getting warm.  The high school seniors are finished, graduation is on Sunday and I've noticed this week there are many kids roaming aimlessly around town. Today, there's an impromptu ball game in progress as I'm coming toward the parking lot.  Bunch of kids, enough for a good game, a mix of guys and girls.  They're having fun, enjoying their last moments of true freedom before college and work and--gasp horror--dreaded adulthood.

I've just passed the kid who's up at bat, when there's this almighty crack of sound that actually made me jump.  I whirl around to see the ball arc into the sky like a missile. It went high and long and sailed right over the trees behind the outfield. Everyone watched that ball soar, including a group of walkers from the YMCA, the city's lawnmower guy, several teachers at recess across the road at the grade school, and all the high school kids. And in that stunned silence we all clearly heard the baseball splash into the river.

"Well shit," says the catcher, "that was the only ball we had."

I smile to myself as I put the dogs in the car, listening to the kids laughing and hooting and slapping Babe Ruth on the back, then I reach under the front seat and snag the ball I found on Sunday.

It still feels good in my hand, but now I know what to do with it and can't stop grinning as I head toward the catcher.  "Hey," I say.  The kid turns.  "I found this the other day."  I toss it to him.  He grabs it one-handed out of the air, looks at it, then at me.  He gives me this big, wide smile. "Thanks lady."  As I walk back to the car, I hear him tell the other kids what I've done.  A chorus of thank yous follow me.

I find life so strangely serendipitous.  I could have missed seeing that ball in the field on Sunday, or ignored it, not picked it up.  I could have walked the dogs elsewhere this morning--which I almost did--or taken the ball out of my car days ago.

But none of those things happened.  And not only was I able to witness a most spectacular home run hit, but I'm pretty sure that mysteriously found baseball ended up right where it was supposed to...

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Blog title is a quote from The Sandlot, one of my favorite "rites of passage" movies.


  1. Terlee this HAD to be serendipity. Isn't funny how life works that way. You come upon a pristine baseball in a field and then you happen upon an impromptu baseball game where they just lost the only ball they had? That is so awesome :) you made their day.

    1. It was such a cool, yet bizarre series of random events...or perhaps not. And I'm still wondering how the ball came to be in that field in the first place.