Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

One Heroic Moment Will Last for a Lifetime

It’s always there, in the back of your mind. And all it takes is that first real day of spring for the flood of memories to come rushing back – you are nearly knocked over from the impact. You adjust your cap, squint into the sun and in an instant, you are 13 again.

It is every kid’s fantasy and, even today, you can’t remember if it was only a dream. It is the bottom of the ninth, two outs, the score all tied up. Stepping up to the plate, you wipe the sweat from your brow. You don’t have to look to know that the crowd is on its feet. You are sure that later, your mom will tell you that you played great, win or lose. But you know that somewhere in the stands she is praying to God that you will knock the ball out of the park. The bench, scattered with a potpourri of bubblegum wrappers and sunflower seeds is emptied, as the anxious faces of your teammates are pressed against the chain-linked fence. A bunch of teenagers, who are much too cool to ever be nervous, hold their breath as well as each other’s hands, shedding their tough guy exteriors.

Breaking the tension, your friends shout words of encouragement to you, accompanied by cracks referencing the pitcher’s mother. But you remain focused. You hear nothing. There is only you and the pitcher, and this Little League diamond isn’t big enough for the both of you. The pitch is thrown, and with one forceful swing, bat meets ball. The stands go wild as you tag the bases and are hoisted upon the shoulders of your friends.

It’s true. Every kid lives and breathes that day. And even if living and breathing sometimes blurs with wishing and dreaming, is it important for a person to really know the difference?

To many, it is these afternoon games that can make or break them. Hope rests in the unpredictable effectiveness of a wooden bat and a leather glove. The homerun hitters are the most respected, most admired. The player who manages to steal home plate is always awarded with a procession of high fives and butt slaps. The boy who catches a line drive thanks to reflex, not so much talent, is congratulated by his teammates, and you can bet that play will be the talk of the dinner table.

I recently attended a Little League baseball game. Sitting in the bleachers, I couldn’t help but take notice of the players in the field. There was the gangly pitcher, whose legs and arms predicted the rest of his body had a lot of catching up to do; the chubby-cheeked catcher, mouth stained blue from the newest Arctic Gatorade flavor; and of course, the “ready-for-anything” infield players, muttering terms for the umpire under their breath after every bad call.

My eyes then rested on one particular player who soon absorbed my full attention. His shirt was a little small, and his stomach a little big. Sporting white Keds in place of cleats, this right fielder didn’t look much like a ball player. But, his love for the game was hard to miss. After every pitch, he pounded his fist into his glove and sang out encouraging chants to his teammates.

I later discovered the right fielder’s name to be Coleman when he stepped up to the plate. Needless to say he was last in the batting order. His brow set with determination, his hands wet with sweat, Coleman felt the crack of the bat and his eyes saw the ball rise out of the park. But, in the crueler world of actuality, Coleman struck out and took his place at the end of the bench, dragging the bat behind him.

A few innings went by; Coleman missed a ground ball here, a pop fly there. He got up to bat again, three strikes, again. I wanted to tell him not to worry, that it was only a game. Tomorrow would come no matter how he played today.

But 13-year-olds clad in pinstripes and baseball caps aren’t worried about tomorrow. This is it – it is the here and now that counts. If you are successful on the field, you are placed at the top of the elementary school totem pole. If you aren’t, you’re doomed to spend the rest of your days leaning solo against the school wall at recess, scraping dried spitballs from your hair.

Towards the end of the game, Coleman was given one last chance. He turned to face the pitcher and I could see his chubby hands whitening from the tightness of his grip. The pitch was thrown, and whether through divine intervention or the workings of sheer luck, Coleman connected! The ball slowly trickled down the third base line. Running as fast as his legs could carry him, Coleman just managed to make it safe at first.

Coleman put his fists in the air, and I am sure he uttered thanks to God or some other almighty power. It didn’t matter that this was his one and only hit all season. It didn’t matter how many errors he made in the field. It didn’t matter that his team was already winning by nine runs.

Maybe no one saw his teammates pig pile on top of him in pure joy. Maybe no one heard the stands chanting his name. But, does that really make a difference? Coleman remembers the explosion of confetti and the roar of the fans and the pep band’s victory number and the crowd rushing the field and his parents’ smiling faces and the complete thrill bursting inside as he is carried off in victory, raised high on the shoulders of his friends. He remembers being a hero – and that is how it should be.

Polly Burokas is a sophomore in the College and can be reached at burokasthehoya.com. Focus with Burokas appears every other Friday in The Hoya.

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya