Hey guys, Drew back here with a happy smile on my face. 1st off, today I was added to the Sports Card Blogroll, so thanks a lot bdj610. (Check out his blog here and the blogroll here) Anyway, here is my newest inspirational story that doesn't have to do with cards at all.
I was stunned. Kids were looking at me with that face that tells me I don't belong. I had been cut. The 1st time I ever tried out for a team for school, I became rejected. My self esteem level went really low. My best friend (that guy that does the splits with me, Mike) made the team, and he didn't give me the greatest of days. Sitting there at lunch, eating with disgust, getting the questions from everyone. "Did you make the team?," asks a person who has never played in their life. I say no, and he says yes. In fact, in the early stages of the blog, I listed 12 reasons why I think I didn't make it. I deleted it after Mike & my dad insisted, and I'm kind of glad (Look what happened to Night Owl!, check the comments)! So anyway, I wasn't ready for tryouts I guess. I thought I played well, but I guess not as well as one of the big-shots that can't hit a ball two feet. All I wanted to do was suit up in the blue and white school uniforms and participate on the team. But I couldn't make it through. So, I was left with the option my wonderful mom gave me. A town league. In fact, the league I played in last year! Just months ago I was saying goodbye to those fields and yet, here I am again!
I end up on a team called N.E.C. My coach was new to me, and same with all of the other players and coaches. This year, instead of last year, I am in the Major Leagues, not the minors, basically meaning that the pitching is harder this year than last year. When I walked into the gym, I was stunned. Last year in the minors I had bigger kids than this year! I wasn't so sure about the team, but the coaches seemed nice. Eventually, after many practices, we get our black & white uniforms, put them on, and play baseball. Last year I pitched a lot for my team, but I didn't have enough confidence to make it through, and I absolutely hated being under the spotlight like that! My dad, my friends, and my coaches all said I was good, but I wanted to move on. So, this year I competed for 1st base. I had some experience there before, and I thought I was pretty good, but there was much to learn. Fortunately, I was able to get through it all with the help of 2 players on my team and the coaches. I didn't really get along well with the team at first, thinking they were very immature, but they are 5th graders mostly so I don't know. I guess I'd have to find a way to survive.
Every morning, I hear at school, "we lost", "we lost", and more "we lost". Mike only had 3 at bats in the season! So, in a way I was glad to not make it. Mike's team wasn't the only one struggling. My team struggled a lot! But I certainly didn't! In the 1st 6 games, I batted .375 with 1 double, 2 triples, and only 2 RBI, but I never came up to bat in big situations. Eventually came that day. My mom shows up with her camera, on a Saturday morning game against a team called Pete's Mobil. I got hit in the shin really hard in that game, and it started a drought for me. I wasn't scared when I got up, but nerves inside of me put me in that spot. During that 4 game slump I had 6 strikeouts in 11 at bats, with 2 hits. Man I felt down again. But then again, I came through and started what turned out to be a 4 game hitting streak. My team started winning, got our butts out of last place, and I had my average in the .400's somehow! After taking my occasional 1/2 game off (this is Little League, and everyone needs to get in) and striking out in that only at bat in that game I had, I started a hitting streak that reached the end of the season, a 7 game hitting streak! Our team suddenly found ourselves in a game that determines our fate basically. We played Pete's Mobil again, in the last game of the year. A huge game. We win: we get 5th place, we lose: we get 6th and face one of the best teams in the league in the 1st round of playoffs. We won, and I went 1 for 3! So we were excited as crazy! I was enjoying myself, but was scared for the 1st round. We played Murphy Wealth Management in the 1st round of playoffs, and last time we faced them, a friend of mine from my CCD class hit a huge grand slam for them after we were leading 9-3! So we lost that game, and we had hopes for revenge right here in the playoffs, the perfect time to do it!
Nobody thought we could do it. But we had some faith. Some of the kids I under-estimated in the beginning were leading our team, and I was playing great 1st base! I finished off the regular season with a .434 batting average and a .480 OBP, with 20 hits in 46 at bats, and 16 strikeouts. I had only 3 errors in the 19 game regular season, so I was feeling great at the plate and in the field. We played our hearts out in that 1st round playoff game, and although I was 1-5, I was robbed 3 times, but I still supported the team! We played incredible ball, with an excellent job done by our starter Chris, and an incredible hit deep into the outfield by the smallest kid on our team, Tommy! We walked away with the upset, and we were so happy! But, we had to deal with the best team in the league- Barton Orchards, with an incredible pitcher that shares my name, who led the league in home runs (10) and scared us all at the plate!
We were on a tear! Everything was going right, and I was very happy about things, until I found out I couldn't make it to this game! I had my academic award night, and I did really well (3 principal's list awards- an overall average over 95 in each quarter so far in the school year), but I was so mad I couldn't make it. I prayed to God for rain, and sure enough rain showed up, and a ton at that. My dad didn't have coache's cell phone number, so we didn't know what happened. Before I went to bed that night (last night), my dad told me he got an e-mail from coach and he said we started the game and were leading 4-3 in the middle of the 3rd inning when they called the game. Chris again stepped up with 2 RBI's and so did a kid named R.Q., who hit a 2 run blast to give us the lead! So I was able to make it tonight against the best team. Nobody on our side. Everybody rooting against us. Against the best team. To make it into the championships. It was my time to shine!
Coach tells me to lead off the inning hitting. The pitcher wasn't quite young superstar Drew but was a kid from my school in 6th grade who has been bugging me about how good he was all day. 1st pitch. Bang! I rip the ball into center field for a lead off single that really got the energy going! The team was pumped, and although I didn't score, we were prepared to show Barton Orchards how to play team baseball. Our pitcher, Greg, pitched fabolous, getting Mr. Superstar out and only giving up 1 hit in 4 innings. We were pumped up!
Silence in our dugout came suddenly. Relieving the big shot from my school comes Drew, throwing his 60 mph (I assume) fastball. After he struck out the side, we still had faith and played another great inning in the field! So, when we got back in the dugout, still with that 4-3 lead, I was up against the Drew that replaces me for #1 Drew in the league. I gotta say, I was nervous. 1st pitch, not used to the speed, I tried my hardest. I ended up hitting a good ground ball that almost bounced over the 1st baseman's head, but got out! I still felt really accomplished that I hit one off of him. Last inning, still with that 4-3 lead, Greg pitches another huge inning, and we beat the odds! 2008 Rays. 2008 NY Giants. 2009 NEC! We made it into the finals! The only time I ever made it this far, now I could sit with the some of the best comeback seasons I've ever seen!
Apparantly, we beat the odds! One of those amazing success stories, especially for the boy that runs a card blog that didn't make the cut, to make it this far! Looking at that team made me worry in the beginning of the year, but I now I feel confidence in them. And, for coach, one of the best I've ever had! Just one of the nicest and hard working coaches in the league that scouted me out, when I hit a Mickey Mantle shot in the try-outs! The assistants were great, and obviously I learned more on this team than ever before. No matter what happens tommorow against H.G. Page at 2:00 in the afternoon at my ballpark home, I will always remember the run as the best comeback ever!