What if you showed up on the sandlot for a pick-up game… but there was nobody there? And you didn’t have a bat, ball or glove either…. Kurt Kelsey lives in Warsaw, Indiana. He wrote saying, “My neighborhood has many good memories. I still feel a bond with all of those people. There still to this day is a remnant of the tiny park in which we all played, and houses now stand where our baseball diamond was— smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood. This is the story of something that happened in that baseball diamond and that something remains smack dab in the middle of my heart.” Pat was a man like most, full of dreams and expectations. He sought friendship, companionship and love. But unlike most other men, Pat had Down Syndrome and would never have the opportunity to see some of his dreams come true. NULL My neighbor Mike was Pat’s nephew. Mike and I were very best friends and spent the majority of our time hinged at the hip. We did what most twelve-year-old boys did in the seventies— played Hot Wheels, watched TV, got into some mischief, played baseball and drove Mike’s mom crazy with our 45 record of Monster Mash. We had a very close-knit neighborhood with a small park and a baseball diamond right smack dab in the middle of it.
When Pat would come to Mike’s for a visit, we would play with Pat, and for the most part treated him as our equal. We loved Pat dearly.
One summer afternoon, Pat came for one of his usual visits. If memory serves me correctly, Mike and I were at my house playing Hot Wheels under my back porch. Since we were not around to play with, Pat wandered out to the neighborhood diamond for a game of baseball. The only problem was that there was nobody around to play with and Pat didn’t have a baseball, or a bat. He did have his dime-store glove however. Nonetheless, Pat began to play a game of baseball. First he batted, then he pitched, then he played in the infield, then he batted some more. You could hear Pat from under my porch, “Hey batter batter, swing batter!”
One of the neighborhood kids, Patty, walked out to play baseball with Pat. Mike and I looked at each other and without saying a word, went to the diamond to join the game. As the game continued on, each of us took turns in the various roles. Pat decided who played which position.
Then something unexpected and amazing began to happen. One by one, kids from all around the neighborhood began joining the game. No one questioned why we didn’t have a bat or a ball— they just walked out to the field or waited their turn at bat. Before we knew it, we had a full-fledged game of invisible baseball, with Pat leading the outcome of the game. There was chanting in the infield and cheering from the sidelines when someone smacked a home run. There were “tens” given as kids crossed the home plate (we didn’t do high fives back then) and votes of sympathy when someone struck out. It had all the excitement of a regular game of baseball. Parents stood from their houses, spectators to this wondrous event, filled with pride and some with tears of joy. And Pat, I never saw him happier than that day— the day of invisible baseball. What we had experienced that day is what God desires for all of us. We experienced love, compassion, friendship, teamwork, pride and joy. We played the game without question, simply because we knew it would make Pat happy. There were only winners that day, nobody lost the game. It was reward enough just to play. ————————————————————— “On Friday mornings 52Best has been emailing a story to Readers in 92 countries since 1999. By sharing stories of compassion, understanding, and creativity, it is our hope that we may be helping in a small way to create a kinder, better world in which to live.” — Sandy Pofahl, Editor 52Best Mission Statement Making a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us through positive stories about people who care enough to give their best and share and motivate by example. Become a 52Best Reader Becoming a Reader is completely free to 52Best and you can unsubscribe at any time. The website also contains a rich archive of past stories. Here’s the link to subscribe: 52best.com/subscribe