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Don't Let Them Steal Your Grand Slam

Amazon author Chris Lowry has built an email list from zero to over five thousand readers primed to buy every time he releases a book.

Boys of Summer painting

Boys of Summer painting

They stole his grand slam.

I joked with a dad next to me as we watched his son step back from the plate and our man on third raced across home.

9 year old pitching is anything but predictable, and this one sailed over the umpires head, too high for the catcher to live up to his namesake.

He laughed because at the bottom of the line up, his kid’s job is just to get on base.

It’s what the coaches preach.

Be a hitter, they say.

Or Bat Smart, which I like better.

It means, if the pitcher is throwing wild, wait and take the walk.

But the bottom of the line up likes to swing, even if they can’t connect.

Usually, the parents sigh because it means two outs.

Except when it doesn’t.

Like taking a fast ball to the hip bone.

That kid leads in no hits on base, or however they record the stat.

He gets hit at least once per game.

Then he’s fast enough to steal to third.

#10 was next.

That’s our number.

He had a great weekend.

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He hit a solo home run the day before, the 4th of the year that went over the fence.

A 250 yard fence, not 225 from our normal fields.

He swung at a second strike and tensed up.

I could see it in his face. He was anxious.

The third pitch came in at his eyes and the ancient ump shouted out strike.

The coaches screamed. I screamed. The parents screamed.

No one got ice cream.

Just a 9 year old smacking his bat in his hand and stomping off, face screwed up in anger, and rage and disappointment.

It was out three and we took the field.

I walked over to the dugout and said one word.

“Smile.”

He nodded and glared, as he traded helmet for cap and bat for glove before he ran to short stop.

With a smile.

Smile if you win. Smile if you lose. Just have fun and enjoy the game because you’re going to get a next at bat.

We won the tournament.

Five games in a row.

But I like to carry that philosophy with me outside of games, and I hope it’s something he remembers.

If you enjoy what you are doing, if you are learning, then you can’t lose.

It’s a win or learn attitude.

The team we played didn’t have it.

Their third base coach was an asshole.

Kevin.

He smarted off to our coaches more than once, shouted at us parents, and berated our kids enough that the ump warned him to stop talking to us.

We brought #10 in as a closer.

He’s the best at 9 pitches and done.

The first four pitches were balls and put a kid on base.

Kevin called out to the next at bat, “That’s four in a row, Carter. He can’t throw strikes.”

Loud.

I got that narrow tunnel vision thing that happens sometimes, when the objective is to destroy, and the mission is still on.

Kevin made The List.

I wondered if we were going to have a discussion in the parking lot after.

Then 10 sent three strikes sailing in and sent that kid back to the bench.

Then another fast ball the batter missed.

I shouted out, “Is that Four in a row, Kevin?”

Got the shut up sign from Les. Got a giggle from the coaches.

And got a death stare from Kev.

We held it for awhile.

At least until 10 struck out his next kid.

And then the next one.

That closed out the game and coach Kevin sauntered back to his dugout.

After a championship game, both teams take the field for the ring ceremony.

The head coach for the other team sent Kevin away, and asked if the boys could get a group pic.

There are always a lot of pics after a game.

I took a few, and then packed the wagon with our gear.

10 stepped in beside me as we walked out to the car.

“Did you say something to that coach?”

“I did.”

“I heard you.”

Then he smiled.

© 2022 Chris Lowry

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