Back in the Zone
"Eaton Reds vs. Roosevelt Rough Riders," boomed the announcer just before game time. This baseball game would decide the Patriot League champions with a win for us, the Eaton Reds. Just coming off of a three game slump, I was eager to come through when they needed me most. The game was at Roosevelt with the famous 350 foot fence that stood a towering 30 feet high, a game of consistency, not power almost certainly. Adam, our leadoff hitter, swings and hits an easy fly ball to the third baseman for a quick out number one. I'm next. I step into the box against my former teammate with fire in my eyes. Coach gives me the green light, so I'm ready for the first pitch. He kicks and fires off the mound. A fastball is hissing down the middle right toward the open glove of the Roosevelt catcher. I load up and unleash a swing with everything I have. Crack!
A towering fly ball is headed straight toward left center field. It would surely be a double. About half way to first base, I look up and notice the outfielders still retreating toward the fence. As I look down to find the base, I see the outstretched arm of assistant coach Shaw ready to give me a high five. About this same time I hear the roar of the crowd confirming the mammoth shot was a homerun. A cross between butterflies, chills, and sheer shock is turning my insides upside down. I had hit homeruns before but never at the magnitude of this one. After getting high fives when crossing the plate, I sat down in the dugout awaiting my next at bat. Next inning, it came. Trying not to think about my previous home run, I once again walk to the plate with the bases empty. After annihilating the first fastball in my last at bat, I get ready to watch his curveball go by. Then, a familiar voice enters my head telling me to never expect a curveball but to be ready for the fastball at any time. As soon as I heard that, another belt high fastball was unleashed. Crack!....Again. Same sound, same pitch, and same feeling as the last at bat. Still not convinced the ball had gone over, I continue to sprint toward first base. I wondered if I was dreaming or if it could possibly be happening. Trotting around the bases for the second time I notice the infielders looking at my slender 6'2, 150 pound frame wondering where in the world I get the home run power. I take smooth stride after smooth stride like I do this everyday.
After crossing home plate for the second time, I glance into the stands to see a standing ovation and applause. There's no better feeling in the world. I was told that I gave them an instant replay if they didn't get the full effect the first time. After the win for the Eaton Reds, we clinched the Patriot League title 8-1. Being the talk of the dugout after the game, I hear a piercing, "Wallace!" I was called by my coach outside of the dugout standing next to a reporter. After a brief interviewing session, I walk out of the dusty field to a group of friends a family with smiles on their faces. Hand shakes and high fives all around. Compliments and congratulations were all thrown my way and I took them with a smile on my face. Having a short memory in baseball and in life was the key to my success in the Championship game. Not dwelling on the mistakes and not living on the success makes me a more consistent player and person.