Children Fiction posted February 11, 2013

This work has reached the exceptional level
Not your ordinary baseball story

First Pitch

by jmdg1954

     The summer of 2009 had promises of being quite idyllic for Randy and Trevor McCoy. Homework made its exodus from their vocabulary, girls began to turn boys' heads, baseball graced the back pages of the daily tabloid, and Mom let them play Grand Theft Auto IV, at any time. Randy, a baseball fanatic, was selected to attend a baseball camp sponsored by the Pawtucket Pioneers, a minor league affiliate of the Kansas City Regals, and Trevor spent the better part of the summer days pining over Emma Stone, the girl with golden hair who lives down the road. Life couldn't have been any better for these ten-year old twin brothers who have been inseparable best friends since they high-fived each other while in the womb.

     "Keep your left leg tucked under your right," barked Ken Falcone, camp instructor. "Remember, bent leg slide."

     "Sorry, coach," Randy said. Embarrassed, he brushed away the infield dirt from his uniform and walked to the starting spot between first and second base. He pivoted, wanting to start the drill over, when he suddenly grabbed his right hip and yelled out in pain. His face grimaced and his frame went down in a heap ...

     The Orthopedic specialist said his growth plate popped and after a few weeks of rest he should be his exuberant self once again. "Do you think I can play fall baseball, Dad?" Randy asked, "I was really learning that slide stuff, and anyway, the Doc said I should be fine in a few weeks." Randy lay in bed dreaming of his return to baseball. He loved the game so much; he wore his catcher's mitt and mask daily. Much to his Mom's dismay, he sometimes played catch by throwing a rubber ball against the wall in his room, catching it on the rebound.

     Four weeks later, Randy was still in pain and had to resort to using a wheelchair when school started. "I'll be okay soon, don't worry," he told his friends. "Come spring, I'll be tearing the cover off the baseball, you watch!" By Thanksgiving, he looked gaunt and sickly. Further diagnosis revealed a cancerous tumor the size of a melon in his pelvic bone known as Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer affecting young children and teens.

     During the next eight months, The Children's Miracle Hospital became Randy's home-away-from-home. After multiple chemo treatments, his Oncologist determined the tumor subsided to a manageable size; yet hip replacement surgery was inevitable. On Halloween, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon performed a hemipelvectomy, and removed Randy's hip and attached the femur bone to his pelvic bone. This would allow him to walk without a hip on the right side of his body. During the next three months, Randy wore a body cast followed by a body brace, both crucial in his recovery. He could be found singing to his nurses, "I am Iron-Man, I'll walk better than you ever can."

     By mid February, Major League Baseball's Spring Training camps were open and all his favorite players arrived to begin their conditioning. Randy spent that time learning how to walk again, this time without a hip.

    "Trev," Randy whispered, "you awake?"

    "Nooo ... you?"

     Giggling, Randy gave his punch line. "Funny, then how'd you answer me?"
    "Go back to sleep, would'ya?"

     Randy felt feisty. "Trev guess what?"


    "This!" Randy raised his legs and kicked the bottom of his brother's mattress, sending him over the side of the upper bunk.

     Trevor dangled from the bunk, his feet conveniently in Randy's face.

     "Aw gross, Trevor. Your feet stink!"

     Laughing, Trevor dropped to the floor. Randy lunged, gripping his arm around his brother's head. "Yes! Dork-Face Trevor will succumb to Ravishing Rebel Randy's monster headlock. Now say it! Say ... UNCLE!"

    "Never!" Before Randy could say another word, Trevor grabbed the back of his waistband and yanked it, straight up.

    "Ahhh, jeez, Trevor, I hate wedgies!"

     Jim McCoy stood at the bedroom doorway smiling and watching his son's horseplay. "What's goin' on in here?"

    "Ah, nothing', Dad," they both chimed in.

    "Good. Let's get a move-on. We got a big day ahead of us ..."

    "Ladies ... and gentlemen..." resonated through the public address system, "the 2011 Pawtucket Pioneers would like to welcome you to tonight's game. If you could please turn your attention to home plate and welcome twelve-year-old Trevor McCoy, founder of The Bent Leg Slide Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for cancer research."

     The crowd rose to a standing ovation as Trevor strode towards home plate. Since he began the foundation with the assistance and guidance of his parents and teachers, his confidence grew, and he became a spirited public speaker, captivating his audience of hundreds. But tonight, there were over eight-thousand applauding fans. Emma held his hand as he nervously approached the microphone. Looking down at his note cards, he slowly lifted his head.

    "It coulda' been me," he said. "It shoulda' been me. I was the older twin by almost three minutes ... but it wasn't me." Pausing for affect, "we were ten-years-old and Randy loved baseball. He would eat and sleep baseball twenty-four-seven. Heck, he would sleep with his uniform on if Mom let him, and most nights you'd find his catcher's mitt under his pillow. And talk ... that's all he would talk about. The Regal's game, his game, ya wanna play catch, how's my stance, let's run bases, should I be a switch hitter? The kid, never, shut, up!"

     Stopping to reflect for a moment, Trevor continued. "His dream was to play in the majors, hit a game winning homer in the bottom of the ninth, and maybe become the next Jeter. He even attended a summer baseball camp right here on this field. But his dreams were washed away like infield dirt on his uniform when he was diagnosed with a pediatric cancer called Ewing Sarcoma."

     Trevor took a deep breath feeling more at ease in front of this capacity crowd. "Cancer ... it's unmerciful. It will strike anyone ... any age ... at any time. It invaded my brother. Well Mr. Cancer. Wrong choice!" The crowd let out an enthusiastic response to those heartfelt words of assurance. "It wasn't easy, but Randy fought with conviction. Fought courageously like a champ; surgery, chemo, body casts, therapy, he suffered through it all. Yet he was always upbeat, always did as the doctors asked, always looking for tomorrow, always wanting to come back here again. It's not a miracle my brother is here tonight," he said choking back tears. "It's his way of showing that we can out-run cancer. Ladies and gentlemen," Trevor pointed to the home team dugout, "here to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of tonight's game, my younger brother, my friend, my hero ... Randy McCoy."

     Leaping up the dug-out steps, Randy jogged towards home plate. The crowd stood and cheered. Slowing enough to give his brother a hug, he stepped on home plate and began running to first. Stepping on the inside part of the base, he made his turn and headed for second, kicking up the infield dirt in his tracks. Suddenly, as he approached second base, he went down. The crowd of eight thousand gasped. With his right leg straight out and his left tucked underneath to protect the ankle, he slid into second. Immediately he popped up and stood on the base, his hands raised high over his head, triumphant, the sound of the crowd ringing in his ears.

     This incredible evening continued to get better for Randy McCoy. He stood on the pitcher's mound as Trevor continued. "Receiving Randy's first pitch tonight is no stranger in these parts. He played his entire twenty-one year career with the Regals, and was a thirteen time All Star." The crowd was already on its feet in anticipation. "He was the league's MVP in 1980, World Series champion in 1985," the ovation grew louder, "elected into the Hall of Fame in 1999, Mr. Pine Tar himself, number five, your own, Glen Brett!" Tears flowed down Randy's face at the introduction of one of his own baseball heroes.

     After Randy threw the ceremonial first pitch, a strike right down the middle, Glen jogged to the mound and handed the ball to Randy and shook his hand. "For all my baseball accomplishments, Randy, they pale in comparison to what you have been able to achieve. You, my friend, are the MVP!"

     Randy continued his battle with cancer leaving college baseball an impossible endeavor. His optimism faded over the years and his dream of playing professional baseball never came to fruition. Baseball though remained in his heart, and he never left the game behind.

    "Boone, keep your left leg tucked under your right," Randy barked out to the Little Leaguer. "Remember, bent leg slide."

    "Okay coach," Boone said brushing off the infield dirt from his uniform, "will-do. Can I go again?"


I would like to expand this story into a book for the 5th - 6th grade level. When my boys were younger, they read many sport books written by Matt Christopher. I think this can follow the same route but with obviously a different twist. I would appreciate any thoughts on this in your review.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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