It was a hot, sunny day. The air was humid. In other words, it was a typical day to play baseball for Nick and the other 6th graders on his team. They had just won the previous two games of the tournament, and were looking to destroy Elmwood park, a team they had wrecked previously. Looking back on it, Nick can clearly see that they were overconfident, which resulted in painful consequences. They warmed up casually, tossing the ball around the infield, lazily catching fly balls in the outfield. When they were done, it was Elmwood Parks turn.
“That was when we got a little nervous,” Nick said, months later. “While warming up, their pitcher threw harder than any we had faced before,” (although now it seems extremely slow). “That wasn’t what worried us, however, it was the fact that he was incredibly wild.” As the boys watched, the pitcher hurled fastball after blazing fastball over the catchers head, three feet to his right, four feet to his left. The same thought coursed through all of their minds: “I really hope this scrub doesn’t peg me.”
The first inning was uneventful. The pitcher for the Foresters, Nick’s team, struck out the side (Although their pitcher could throw hard, none of them could hit at all). Then when the foresters came to bat, three of them were walked, and another two got hits. They scored 4 runs in total before the pitcher got out of it. “We were feeling pretty good at that point,” one of the Foresters recalled later “He hadn’t hit any of us and we had hit him, so we were all pretty confident after that first inning.”
The second and third innings were also uneventful. The Foresters scored a couple more runs, while simultaneously keeping Elmwood Park off the board. However, the temperature had steadily increased, and now it was 100 degrees, in the middle of the day, and the sun was beating down on all of the ballplayers. This caused them to be drenched in sweat, and made it hard to grip the ball. Then came the fourth. Due to pitching rules, this was to be the wild flamethrower from Elmwood parks’ last inning, which everyone was grateful for. “We only had to face him one more time, and we were all pretty excited,” recalled Nick later, “Even though we had crushed him, he was starting to get wilder and wilder as it became harder for him to grip the ball, and because he was naturally getting tired.”
The first two batters that inning had uneventful at bats, one hit a single, the second drew a walk. Then it was Nick’s turn to bat. He dug in, adjusted his helmet, and waited for the pitch. The pitcher went into his windup, but something was different. Instead of throwing over the top as he had been doing the entire game, the pitcher suddenly threw it sidearm, the hardest pitch he had thrown the whole game. It cut in, and nailed Nick right on the bone in his arm. Crack! It was the worst pain he had ever felt, and right away he knew something was wrong. “It hurt like hell,” remembers Nick, “To have your arm broken in a 6th grade baseball game just sucks. I was out for the rest of the season, and apart from a few fractured fingers, it was the first real injury I had ever had.”
Wincing in pain, Nick jogged to first, but then came out of the game immediately after the half-inning was over, because he could not hold a bat to swing it. Even though they ended up winning the game, none of the Foresters felt like it was a victory.