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 THREE
“Strike him out!” the loud cheerleader hollers.
“No hitter! No hitter!” the infielders chant.
“C’mon, Gadi! C’mon!” my teammates shout.
“No batter. No batter,” the catcher chimes.
I hear the cheering and the chatter, but it’s just background music to me.
I’m concentrating on what I have to do and loving every second of my at-bat.
I expect Yaron will come in high and hard on the first pitch just like he did to Jeremy, but he fools me and the pitch curves in at the waist for a called strike one.
The second pitch is the high hard one.
It forces me down into the dirt.
But the pitch is so far inside that it gets away from the catcher and slams against the backstop.
Jeremy scampers to second on the wild pitch.
The tying run is now on second base!
I dust myself off and take my time getting set again in the batter’s box.
The pitch that put Jeremy on second with the tying run complicates things for Yaron. He can’t risk another wild pitch or passed ball.
He has to come in to me. But again, he won’t give me anything good to hit. He knows all I need to do is hit the ball safely into the outfield and Jeremy will score.
He comes in with another curve ball. This one zips in at the knees.
I foul it off for strike two. I’m behind in the count now. I have to be ready for a change-up. At the same time I have to be set for a fastball. Or he could throw another curve ball.
I’m thinking too much, I tell myself. I call “Time!”
The umpire nods at me and I step out of the batter’s box.
I adjust my batting gloves and my helmet.
I’m thinking again.
I decide I have to take the inside curve away from Yaron. I can deal with the fastball or the change-up. That’s just a matter of reflexes. But the inside curve is a problem.
“Batter, step in!” the umpire orders.
I get set again.
This time I move up in the batter’s box, as far in front of home plate as is allowed. My front foot is touching the forward chalk line of the box. I’m standing as close as I can to Yaron, shortening the distance between myself and the pitcher’s mound.
If he throws the inside curve, it will hit me before it breaks in over the plate. I’m daring him to throw an inside pitch.
Now Yaron steps off the rubber. He has to think this one through.
He understands the old man at the plate is daring him to throw the ball inside. He knows I’m going to let the ball hit me for a free base.
He steps back onto the rubber, takes a deep breath and goes into his windup.
He throws a low strike at the knees on the outside corner. I just get a piece of it and foul it off. It’s still one ball and two strikes.
The Dimona team’s infield chatter, the chanting from the loud cheerleader and the crowd and my own teammates’ desperate encouragement all blend into that dull roar I have loved all my life as a ballplayer.
And now, at the Kibbutz Gezer softball field, with the Dimona crowd cheering on Yaron and my teammates shouting my name, I’m in a zone of certainty.
There’s no way to explain to you how confident I am at the plate in that zone, but I know I’m going to beat him.
He’s not going to get me out.
I know it.
And I’m forcing him to throw me a pitch I can hit.
The next pitch comes in high and fast in the strike zone. It’s on the outside corner of the plate, just where I want it to be.
I love hitting fast balls that are high and a bit outside.
I swing and meet the ball. It feels good.
I see the ball arcing into right-center field between the fielders for a solid single, maybe even for extra bases.
It skips off the grass two or three times and looks like it’s going to get past the fielders.
Then the right fielder dives on the run and snags the ball, keeping it from going for extra bases. That’s a great play, I think as I pull up rounding first.
But then the fielder makes a mistake.
He jumps to his feet and throws home in a vain attempt to prevent Jeremy from scoring the tying run.
When I see the ball sailing over Yaron’s head and I’m sure he isn’t cutting it off, I run to second.
Jeremy slides home safe and the game is tied.
I’m standing on second, both relieved and burning with the desire for more.
I want more, I say to myself. I want to score the winning run.
The speedy shortstop comes over and says, “Nice hit.”
“Atta be, Gadi,” my guys are yelling from the dugout.
“Beauty, Gadi!” Jeremy shouts, jumping up and down and pumping both arms in triumph. “I knew it! I knew it!”
Yaron salutes me with a nod of his head.
It’s a simple gesture, but a noble one.
He’s telling me he loves playing against worthy opponents and he regards me as one. Yaron is a good sport.
I can see he’s a bit rattled. He had the game won and now the go-ahead run is on second with the meat of our batting order coming up.
But he smiles and nods at me again, expressing the pleasure he derived from our pitcher-batter duel even though the outcome of that dueling didn’t go his way.
Moish is calling to me. “Gadi! Two out! We want this run!”