Friday, April 16, 2010

Baseball Season is Here!

Remember, folks, that this blog is open for you to "publish" all of your literary efforts: short stories, poems, essays, etc. It isn't "political" any longer. Send your stuff to me at riart1@aol.com. And here is a short story I penned a few years back which is appropriate for the baseball season and other times as well. It has sort of a message.


The Worst Ballplayer on the Field

Jack Lippman


Jerry was the worst baseball player of all the kids at the ball field in the park. Every time there was a choose-up game, he was picked last. Whenever he swung at the ball, he missed. In games, he always struck out. In the outfield, where he always played, he couldn’t catch the ball, even if it came straight to him. The others often laughed at him.

One afternoon, as Jerry was walking to the park, he heard a voice coming from the hedges beside the sidewalk. “Hey, Jerry, are you on your way to the park to play ball?” Jerry stopped and looked behind the hedge. To his surprise, he saw a little man with a wrinkled face sitting on a rock smiling.

“Jerry, I’ve a present for you,” the man said.

“Who are you, Mister?” Jerry asked, despite having been taught never to speak to strangers.

“I’m an elf! The kind you read about in fairy tales. I’ve been sent by your fairy godmother to help you.”

Jerry looked at him, replying, “I don’t believe in elves or fairy godmothers! But tell me your name. And what’s this about a present for me?”

“Well, I’m glad you’re being reasonable, Jerry. My name is Mr. Fafuffnick, and whether you like it or not, you do have a fairy godmother. Everyone does. Anyway, yours doesn’t like what has been happening to you at the ball field. So she asked me to give you these.” And with that, the elf took a well-worn baseball glove and a bat from a satchel he was carrying. “Use these, Jerry, and you will never have any more problems at the ball field.” And with that, the elf vanished in a puff of smoke.

That afternoon, as usual, Jerry was picked last and sent to play in the outfield.
The very first batter hit the ball high and far toward that part of the field where Jerry stood. He didn’t even see the ball, but somehow found himself running backwards toward the fence at the edge of the field. Sensing that it was time to leap up, he flew almost three feet off of the ground and reached over the fence. When he came down, the ball was in his glove.

The next batter hit the ball to another part of the outfield, where one of Jerry’s teammates futilely chased it as it rolled and bounced along the grass. Jerry ran, with a speed he never knew he possessed, across the outfield and picked up the ball which was continuing to elude the other outfielder. By this time, the batter was rounding third base. Jerry cocked his arm back, and from the farthest part of centerfield, threw it toward home plate, where it landed precisely in the center of the glove of the catcher, who easily tagged the runner out.

When the inning was over, Jerry’s teammates cheered him. When his turn at bat came, he hit the first pitch far over the centerfield fence for a home run. Each time he came to the plate, he hit another home run. At the end of the game, Jerry’s hand was sore from the number of times his teammates had high-fived him.

Walking home, as he passed the hedges where he had met the elf, he heard a voice. It was Mr. Fafuffnick.

“Nice game today, Jerry, baby,” he called out, offering still another high-five. “That last shot of yours must have gone 450 feet! And now, may I please have the bat and glove back?”

“No way, Mr. Fafuffnick,” Jerry answered. Suddenly, the bat and glove, which he had been carrying, dropped from his grasp and, as if they had legs of their own, they waddled over to the elf, leaving Jerry’s hands stinging.

“Jerry, you underestimate the power your fairy godmother has given me. In the future, when I ask you to give something back, I hope you will comply, and not force me to repeat what I just had to do. You see, part of my job is to take the bat and glove back to your fairy godmother each night so that she can recharge them. But don’t worry, I will be behind these hedges every day to give them back to you when you pass by on your way to the park.”

Mr. Fafuffnick was true to his word, and every day, he gave Jerry the glove and bat. Jerry continued to catch any balls hit his way, throw runners out at the plate and get hits each time he came to the plate. All of the other players, and even some of the grown-ups who came to the ball field, agreed that Jerry was the best player who had ever played at the park. At the end of the summer, they even gave him a little trophy saying exactly that.

“Pssst,” a voice came from behind the hedges, as Jerry headed home from the park for the last time that summer.

“Hello, Mr. Fafuffnick,” Jerry greeted the elf. “Here’s the bat and glove back. The season’s over now, and I really want to thank you and my fairy godmother for all that you have done for me.”

“Think nothing of it, Jerry, and this time, you get to keep the bat and the glove. They’re yours permanently. Good luck with them!” Mr. Fafuffnick replied.

“But how is my fairy godmother going to recharge them if I don’t give them back to you each time after I use them,” Jerry asked.

Mr. Fafuffnick looked at the boy. “Jerry, baby, I thought you might have caught on by now. After the first week or so, I stopped taking them back to her for recharging. You know, fairy godmothers exist to give you a hand once in a while when you need it, but no fairy godmother has ever guaranteed anyone a free ride for the rest of their life. From now on, Jerry, what you accomplish is up to you.”

And with that, Mr. Fafuffnick disappeared in a puff of smoke.

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