By Steve Trout
Billy wasn’t going to wait any longer. He grabbed the plastic case and took Buddy out of his “retirement.”
Then he spoke to his magic ball. “Buddy, I got a big favor to ask you. I need you to give your magic and wisdom to a teammate of mine. He really needs it. He’s a great kid, but he’s got some terrible habits and he’s very big and heavy. He’s got diabetes and needs to make some big changes.”
Buddy said, “Let’s do it, I was hoping to get back into action.”
Billy was worried the magic had worn off, but Buddy was willing and excited to help another kid make himself a better ball player and healthier person, to give his magic to make Tony stronger and better, not just on the field, but off of it as well.
At the game, Billy called over to Tony. “Hey, Tony, I want to give you the baseball I found in the woods last year. I even have a name for him. Just call him ‘Buddy.’”
Billy put Buddy in Tony’s ball bag.
The game that afternoon went pretty well for the team. Tony hit a home run, and his teammates chanted, “Tank, Tank, Tank!” Finally, Tony smiled.
When Tony got home from the game, he took Buddy out of his bag and put him on his dresser, just like Billy told him to do.
Tony turned on his computer and started to play Fortnite. He took out a few candy bars and bit off the end of a Kit Kat and started to play the violent game. Then he heard a voice say, “Be healthy.”
Tony shrugged his shoulders and kept playing. He ate another candy bar.
Again, he heard the voice: “Your weight, your habits.”
At the next game, Billy saw Tony and asked him if he had the ball.
“No, but I think I heard the ball talk. Nah, I must have been hearing things, I guess. Man, it was really weird.”
Billy smiled. “Let me tell you. Just listen to what Buddy says. Don’t forget. Whatever he says, do it.”
“Okay, I will do that, but this better not be a joke. I don’t want to look like an idiot,” Tony answered.
“You have to believe: That’s the first step in getting better and making some important changes,” Billy reminded him.
When Tony got home that afternoon, he opened up the freezer and pulled out a half gallon of butter pecan ice cream. He took the whole thing up to his room and turned on the TV.
As he dug into the ice cream, he heard a voice from his dresser: “Only one scoop. You can do it.”
Tony thought about what Billy had told him, and now he believed Buddy was right.
He looked over his shoulder, went over to the dresser and picked up Buddy. “Oay, if you can talk, and Billy has given you to me to make me a healthier person, I’m all in. I’m gonna do this now.”
The ball said, “Good. You have to be ready to do the hard work.”
Tony looked in his mirror and took a good long look at himself.
“Buddy, I’m ready. I have to make a change and a big one. We all need a little nudge and a push to get past the fear of making changes. So, to be a good ballplayer and feel better, I’m ready and committed.”
“It won’t be easy,” Buddy said.
Tony went downstairs and asked his dad if he’d talk a walk with him.
“You better believe it, son. I’d love to take a walk with you.”
This surprised Tony because normally his dad responded with a big fat “No.”
“Dad, don’t try to be funny.”
His father said: “I guess I could use a little exercise myself.”
After their walk, Tony pulled off his sweaty T-shirt and took a shower.
When he was ready for bed, he looked over at Buddy and said good night.
Then he had the best night’s sleep ever and woke up feeling super good.
The next morning, he went down to breakfast and his mom was making pancakes and sausage.
He asked, “Mom, can I have some cereal and a banana?”
“Sure, son, but you always like my pancakes. You know I make them just for you.”
“Yes, Mom, I love your pancakes, but I think I want to make a little change in the way I eat. Dad and I talked about this on our walk last night.”
Later, Billy called Tony and suggested they ride their bikes to practice. He also reminded him not to forget to bring Buddy.
He also said, “Hey, let’s play catch with Buddy. He likes to fly every once in a while.”
At practice, Tony threw the ball over Billy’s head and one of the other boys picked Buddy up and ran away with him.
Billy chased the boy, yelling at him to give the ball back. The boy threw Buddy across the street and almost hit a car driving by.
Billy was so eager to get Buddy back that he ran across the street without looking both ways for cars.
Billy didn’t see the car driving down the street. The car slammed on its brakes and just missed hitting him.
“Look before you cross the street,” Billy heard.
The boy who threw the ball apologized as Tony put Buddy back in his bag.
That day, practice went well as Tony blocked the ball and threw out a runner during practice drills.
Tony thought, “Heck, I never did that before.”
He even got praise from the coach.