A Legacy of Diamonds
© 2014, Gadi Bossin
P.O. Box 20
Kiryat Bialik, Israel
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author.
A LEGACY OF DIAMONDS: PART FOUR
The Dimona team manager calls time and walks solemnly to the mound for a conference with Yaron.
He motions to the catcher and the other infielders to join them.
They talk over their options and then nod to each other. They decide to walk Ariel intentionally to set up a force at any base for the third out.
That brings up Moish, our cleanup hitter.
Moish hits for both power and average. This is going to be strength against strength with the game on the line.
Two out. Runners on first and second. Tie score, 5-5. Bottom of the last inning.
I live for moments like this. “C’mon Moish. C’mon.”
Jeremy’s coaching third now.
He hollers, “You’re here on a wild pitch or a passed ball! You gotta be here!”
I nod. I understand. I’m ready.
Yaron delivers his first pitch to Moish. It’s a change-up and catches Moish off balance. He lets it go for strike one. The second pitch is a fastball on the outside corner for another called strike, oh-and-two.
Yaron’s going to waste this next one, I think.
I know Moish is on to him. It’s pitcher versus pitcher.
The ball is high and inside, one-and-two.
The fourth pitch is another ball, high and outside. Now it’s two-and-two.
The next pitch is low and bounces at the catcher’s feet.
The catcher can’t handle it and the ball caroms off his shinpads off to his right in the direction of first base.
Moving off the base on the pitch, I just keep going to third base. Ariel has to stay on first.
Now the count is full, three-and-two. Yaron is going to have to come in with this pitch. Or, maybe he’ll decide to walk Moish and face Dov, our number five hitter.
Yaron stands with his hands on his hips and calls out to his manager, “You want me to walk him?”
“No. Pitch to him,” the manager calls back.
I smile. They’re going to pitch to Moish. He’s going to get a pitch to hit.
Moish digs in again in the batter’s box.
Yaron sets himself. He goes into his windup and throws the ball low in the strike zone.
Moish adjusts his swing and smacks the ball back at the mound.
It’s too hard and too fast for Yaron to glove, but he gets a piece of the ball and it bounces toward the first base line.
I’m running home.
The first baseman bare hands the ball.
I’m almost there.
The catcher is setting up to block the plate.
Here comes the ball. I slide. The throw is knee high. I’m under the tag.
“Safe!” the umpire calls.
Dov is the first of my teammates to reach me.
He pulls me to my feet and screams, “It ain’t over till the old man says it’s over.”
They’re all pounding me on the back. “Great game! Great game!” everyone’s shouting.
At first, the Dimona crowd is quiet as we exult.
Then Yaron begins to clap his hands and leads his team and the crowd in applauding our come-from-behind victory.
Like I said, Yaron is a good sport.
Even the loud cheerleader in the green robes and yellow headdress follows his example and is clapping for us now.
The teams line up and the players walk past each other, hand slapping and saying, “Good game.”
When Yaron and I are opposite each other, he stops, shakes my hand and pulls me to him in a manly embrace.
“You still got it!” he says. And he smiles again, even as I see in his eyes how much he wanted to win the game.
I say, “Thanks, Yaron.” And I smile back at him.
I can’t stop smiling. I’m feeling really good.
I love softball!
A LEGACY OF DIAMONDS: EPILOGUE
When I called Yaron and asked him for permission to use his name in this story, he agreed right away.
And then the two of us talked for about twenty minutes. It was a very pleasant conversation.
I don’t believe in skimping on praise for a worthy opponent, so I told him again for the umpteenth time how much I’ve always admired the way he plays the game and that I always, always loved playing against him even though on all the teams I’ve played on over the years we lost to him and his Dimona teammates close to nine times out of ten.
I asked him what kind of season he’d had this spring. He said, “I’ve been striking out everyone except Yaniv. I had more than 140 strikeouts in sixteen games.”
I said, “Yaron, it’s funny. I don’t recall ever striking out against you.”
He laughed and said, “Oh, but you did.”
I said, “I don’t think so.” And we both laughed.
He then confessed to me that he couldn’t recall the game I told him I would describe in “A Legacy of Diamonds.”
“I don’t recollect that game at all. I don’t think that team ever defeated us.”
I said, “Oh, but we did.”
I assured him I remembered the game well. When you lose so many games to another team, you remember when you finally put up a “W” against them.
Yaron then said something to me that I will always treasure.
He said, “Gadi, I’ve always been amazed at how hard you throw the ball. I don’t know how you do it with that windup of yours.”
Explanation of what this means: Yaron and all the very best softball pitchers use a windmill windup and jump toward the plate to get closer to the batter when they release the ball.
I never mastered the windmill windup and always pitched in what is known as the modified style.
Wow! Praise from Yaron about my pitching! What could be better?
And then he said, “You know, I never took it for granted I could get you out when you came to the plate. I always knew I had to dig into my bag of tricks when I faced you.”
Okay, now I’m flying.
Just before we said goodbye, I offered Yaron a deal.
“Tell you what, Yaron. Even though I don’t remember ever striking out against you, I’ll agree that you struck me out if you agree that we beat you in that game I’m describing in my story.”
He laughed again. He laughs easily.
I said, “Deal?”
He said, “Deal.”
And we laughed together.