By: Ethan K.
Whooooosh! Thump! Henry felt himself melt into the catcher’s mitt like a freshly cracked egg. Henry was the fastest baseball in the league. Everyone watched as he became a blur of white and red each time he was thrown toward the batter’s box. Batters feared him. They knew that he was the “Strikeout Superstar” and they knew there was no hope of them ever hitting him. Henry was the most famous baseball to ever play the game.
But Henry was very unhappy. He dreamed of soaring through the air like a wingless bird, high above the cheering crowd, the bright lights, the amazed players, and eventually over the fence. Henry wanted to be a homerun.
Speed was always Henry’s gift. From the moment he was brought out onto the practice field, he was speeding past every bat. Henry didn’t feel very special though. Always flying into the catcher’s mitt and never flying out to the field.
He tried to slow himself down. He would spin himself backwards but that just made him faster. The crowd would cheer, “Fastball! Fastball! The ‘watch it go past’ ball!” He tried wiggling around in the air but this did nothing to stop him from zooming over the plate and into the mitt. “Change up! Change up! Take you glove and hang it up!” the crowd would roar. He had always heard that the fastest way to get somewhere is a straight line, so he figured he would take a wide arching approach toward the batter to slow down. Again, all he heard was the thud of the glove around him and the screams from the crowd as the yelled, “Curve it! Swerve it! But you can’t hit it!” He even tried to use the dirt to slow himself down but everyone just called him “Wild Man”. Nothing he did ever slowed him down enough for a batter to hit him.
At night, after the games, after the crowds were gone and the lights were darkened, surrounded by silence and stars, he dreamed of the land beyond the fences. He had heard it was a beautiful place where baseballs could be whatever they wanted to be. Daddies and Mommies would throw them back and forth with their sons and daughters. Young children would roll them or try to bounce them. Dogs would fetch the baseballs and bring them back all slobbery wet to the dog’s owner. It sounded like the most magnificent World Series kind of place to Henry.
Henry had had enough. He didn’t want to play anymore. He was ready to give up on him dream of being a homerun and just settle for hanging out with the old worn out practice balls in the practice ball bucket for the rest of his days.
The next day was another game day. Henry didn’t even want to leave the locker where he stayed when he wasn’t playing. But the crowd had come to see the “Strikeout Superstar” and he had no choice but to go out to the pitcher’s mound and get ready for the first pitch.
The first three pitches were just like all of the others from every game before. “Strike one! Strike two! Strike three! You’re out!” the umpire grunted. Henry was miserable. But when the next batter prepared for the windup, Henry felt a cool, crisp breeze swirl around him like a cloud whispering encouragement to him.
As Henry zipped through the air toward the batter, he felt the force of the wind pushing back on him. It became stronger and stronger! It was actually slowing him down! Henry perked up and focused on the sweet spot of the bat.
CRACK! He was hit! Henry soared through the air, over the cheering crowd, over the bright lights, high above the amazed players. He couldn’t believe the view! He saw the fence ahead but he had never been this close to it before. Doubt started to creep into his thoughts like a snake slithering quietly through grass.
“I won’t make it. I won’t make it, “he thought to himself. Suddenly, he saw the fence getting closer and closer as he began to fall farther and farther down. Just as he dropped toward the ground he saw the fence pass by him and he thought, “I made it! I am finally a homerun!”
Henry landed on a soft bed of sweet, fresh clovers and sat wide-eyed staring at the beauty that surrounded him.
But just as quickly as the joy and excitement filled his new homerun self, a sinking feeling crept in. There were no daddies or mommies throwing him back and forth with their sons or daughters. There were no young children to roll him or bounce him. And there were no dogs to fetch him. Henry was all alone.
“Being a homerun isn’t what I thought it would be,” he thought to himself. Maybe being the strikeout superstar was what I was made to be.
Just as Henry began to wish to be returned to the field where all of his fans and friends had always been, someone picked him up and threw him back over the fence.
Henry landed in the outfield next to the center fielder’s cleats. The smell of the field, the cheers from the crowd, the grit of the dirt felt to Henry like being autographed by all of the people he loved the most.
Henry was thrown back to the pitcher’s mound, but this time he was excited to get back in the game. And as Henry raced toward the catcher’s mitt once again he knew that he was exactly what he was meant to be. And with one more THWACK! into the mitt, Henry smiled and thought to himself, “I’m home.”