by Michael Jermyn
After several hours of relic hunting with my camera and a friend deep in North Tunbridge, I came across some corn-fed American kids playing baseball in front of an ancient and massive barn full of Jersey milkers. It was like stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting. ”I used to play for the New York Mets” I bragged to myself (where did I get that?) as I stepped out of my black Volvo. After a tour of the barn by Brook, a teenage female farmer, the kids put me to task and corral me into the game that was currently underway. Mack hands me the bat and says, ”You’re up, Sir!”
So I tap my shoes with the bat to remove any dung left there from the barn tour, and very dramatically step up to the plate, all the teenage eyes upon me. The young pitcher winds up and delivers. A high fastball. I take a swing. Miss! Strike one! ”Whoa,” I say to myself, ” This little kid is packin’ some heat!!”
The pitcher winds up again. A curve ball. Swing and a miss! Strike two!
I’m starting to get a little nervous in front of this beautiful barn somewhere deep in New England on a chilly baseball night. What are these kids gonna think of me if I strikeout? A former Met. A real baseball player who dropped in from nowhere and was now playing alongside these young Turks with their dreams of one day playing in the big leagues. It was as if Babe Ruth or Joey DiMaggio had suddenly stopped by. Exciting times on this lonely dirt road indeed!
All was slow motion now. The pressure on me was mighty. It didn’t matter that I was playing in a pick-up game on a dead-end dirt road with a bunch of fresh-faced farm kids. For me, it was as if I was in Yankee Stadium in front of thousands of screaming fans. Would I go home a hero? Or just another schmuck?
The pitcher winds up again and delivers. A fastball screams toward me with surprising velocity.
My left leg kicks up. I swing with everything I’ve got.
My bat makes a solid connection with the ball, one of the greatest feelings on God’s green earth.
The ball goes up in the air, sailing away–up, up, and away — over that massive and ancient barn. A home run!
I trot slowly around the bases, a look of collective disbelief and amazement on the kids’ faces.
I go home a hero. Just another day on the baseball diamond, somewhere deep in New England.