It didn’t happen often but when it did, my heart beat out of my chest as I ran from my lead at third, sprinting, then sliding into home. This baseball field, behind our neighborhood row houses was not the manicured by comparison, raked, cut, and edged field where we played our little league games between our marathon four against four twinight triple headers when we didn’t keep score. If you could slide on this field, you could slide in any big league stadium.
Sliding into home as John stood bravely waiting for his older brother Joe’s whizzing throw from deep center down by the alley with his back foot in the damp ditch. Larry smacked the line drive on the second pitch, almost decapitating the pitcher, his brother Mike. My brother Mike, momentarily blocking my path while he picks up Larry’s bat, Mike’s 34 Louisville Slugger, as he yells, Run, Slide!
I slide hearing the slap of the ball in John’s glove followed by a thwack across my face and my brother yelling, Safe! John gets off of me, helps me up, smiles and says, Your nose is bleedin’.
Next up, my brother Mike, on the third pitch, pops an infield fly. Larry’s brother Mike makes the catch. Larry tags up at second and runs to third knocking his brother down on the way. Mike throws the ball to a thirdbasemanless third base and hits his brother in the thigh. Dust and rocks. Fists and Converse kicks.
My brther and I decide to get a drink from Mrs. Francis’ garden hose. We run the hose a while to let the hot water flow out of the sun baked hose. The inning is over. Larry forgot we had two outs.
With matching blood stained t-shirts, Larry and I take the field. My brother pitches and we hope he doesn’t bean Joe like he did yesterday.