Slice of Life: The Hitter’s Speech

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When you play pro baseball for 20 years, you learn a few things other than to hit, run and field. But those other things usually don’t mean much when you meet people. They want to know about the clutch hits, the diving catches, not how hard it was to be a husband and father while living on the road.”

          The speaker covered his mouth and coughed quietly. The room full of business leaders played with the food on their plate, yawned and otherwise appeared uninterested that a famous athlete was about to bare his soul. He clutched the podium and glared at them as if they were on the mound preparing to throw a brush back pitch. He had no sense of how long the next moment lasted, but it was quick like picking up the spin of a curveball before it reached the plate. At bat his swing was instinctive and the result often “gargantuan”—that’s what they called his home runs. But there was nothing to hit this time. His two sons were long gone and he had no idea where their mother was living. He wanted to curse out loud the allure of fame that had trumped being a parent and all those phone calls to his wife that had ended with, “I’ll be home soon.”  But he let the moment pass.

          The next day a newspaper story reported he had shed tears when explaining how much he missed baseball.

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