The first story in our three-part series about Buddy the magic baseball written by former Major League Baseball pitcher Steve Trout is about how Buddy helped Billy realize his potential and believe in himself.
By Steve Trout
Billy normally sat on the bench, but today baseball’s game was different. Only nine players showed up, so Coach Doolittle called Billy over and told him he was batting first and playing right field.
Billy was excited, but also a little nervous. He thought, “If only my dad could be here.” His father has been away for almost a year serving in the military overseas.
The coach had him leading off since Billy was the shortest of all the players. He told Billy not to swing at any pitch because he had a better chance at getting a walk than hitting the ball.
Billy pushed up his black-framed glasses after the ball was called a strike. The count was two and two. Billy took a step out of the batter’s box, adjusted his helmet and pushed his glasses up again. The ball came in a little high, and Billy took a swing.
“Strike three!” the umpire yelled.
“What did I tell you? I told you not to swing,” said Coach Doolittle.
Billy sprinted out to his right field position.
The batter hit the ball to right field, and the sun was in Billy’s eyes. But he reached over his head and made a great catch. His team high-fived him as he ran back to the dugout.
The next time up, with the team down by one run and a runner on third, the coach called Billy over. “You made a great catch, and now I want you to take the biggest swing of your life.”
“Okay, Coach, that’s what I was hoping you’d say.” On the very first pitch, Billy connected with the ball, sending it over the left field fence, and the Farmers won the game because of little Billy’s big blast.
After the game Billy went to find the home run ball, which was somewhere in the woods behind the left field fence. While looking for the ball, he saw an old lawn mower turned upside down. Next to a tree was a once-red bike with only one tire left and no seat.
The mosquitos started biting, so it was time to leave. Billy thought maybe he’d look for the ball another day.
Then he tripped over something; it was a tractor tire. He looked down and saw a baseball half-covered by the tire. He eased it out from beneath the tire.
The ball was old and worn, but Billy decided to take it home with him. “I’m going to call you ‘Buddy,’” Billy told it.
Once he was back in his room, Billy put the ball on the top of his dresser.
Billy started doing his homework. He opened up his math book and laid a piece of paper next to it. Writing down the math problems, he multiplied 43 by 42 then added 11. The total was 1,816. He tried another: 52 times 28 plus 8, and he calculated the total as 1,463. He looked in the back of the book for the answers and found that both were off by one number. He threw the paper in the garbage can and closed his book.
Then he heard a voice say, “Don’t give up.”