Sunday, December 09, 2007

Work in progress

He’d been attending the Stephen F. Austin High School Baseball Invitational for years and always loved everything about it. The pavilion, a fancy name for a few folding tables set covered by a tent top, was a great place to hang out. The smell of the barbecue grill cooking up hot dogs and hamburgers was enough to draw him as a younger kid, and the high school girls hanging around to talk to the freshmen and junior varsity baseball players that manned the pavilion was a bigger reason to stay. For the past couple of years, he’d been one of the players manning the tent.

There was plenty of buzz about the top players on the teams in the tournament. “Yup, he’s got a scholarship from Texas, but I hear he may get drafted in the first round.” “I talked to one of the scouts, and he said he was throwing mid-90s.” These overheard comments built the excitement.

Now he was a varsity player, proud to be one of the ones in uniform, so everyone knew he was a participant. Not one of the ones the buzz was about, mind you. In fact, once the game started, he usually rode the pine. But thanks to a dislocated shoulder in last week’s game to Casey, the starting catcher, he’d be a starter throughout the tournament.

His dreams of going on to play college and possibly pro ball had been dashed a year ago, when he was sent down from the varsity to the junior varsity as a junior, not a sign of a star player. Then came the shoulder injury that had never really healed, and the awkward throwing motion he’d developed from trying to throw through the injury.


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