Michelle Martin


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Frank played his first baseball game of the season last weekend, and it was one for the books.

A 2 1/2–hour contest, it ended with 21 runs scored — and probably an equal number of walks, which is a normal consequence of 10-year-olds pitching.

Everyone showed a bit of rust, including the coaches, who sent players up to bat out of order on at least three occasions.

The first two times, the mistake was noticed with the at-bat in progress, and the wrong player was pulled back and the right player put in — both times with a strike already called against him.

The third time, it was Frank who was missed, and no one (except Frank) noticed until the player who jumped ahead was done batting.

It was also the last inning, and Frank’s team was down by five runs. It was the other team’s coach who noticed first.

“What happened to Frank?” he called across the infield.

“He struck out to end the last inning,” his coach returned.

“That was Jamie,” the other coach said.

As indeed it was. Frank was on deck at the end of the last inning.

Frank watched the exchange with interest, even getting up in case anyone was thinking of having him bat, but no one said anything, so he just stood there, not complaining. He’d led off the game, been on base twice, scored once and made a nice catch on a line drive, so it was a good day.

When a batter — with his team still down five runs and with two outs in the last inning — walked, Frank leaned out and gave him five. When the next batter walked, Frank gave him five too.

What goes around doesn’t always come around very fast, but this time, it did. His team started to hit, still with two outs, and tied the game.

Soon enough, Frank’s place in the batting order was up again, with two runners on. He smacked the second pitch over the pitchers head, past second base and into the outfield, ending up on second base with the go-ahead and one insurance run driven in. The next batter drove him in, and his team went on to win by five.

Afterwards, he was happiest his team won. He didn’t think being skipped in the batting order was anything to get upset about. If nothing else, it meant he wouldn’t get hit by a pitch like he did in the first inning.

Frank loves sports, and he loves to compete and win. But it was refreshing to see he also knows what it means to be a good sport. For me, seeing him congratulate the player who unwittingly took his place was the winningest part of the day.