Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Home Run

I have always laughed when in the village where I live when friends introduce me as the artist. They see me as that, I do not, but it has stuck. It seems though that I am also getting a bit of a name for being the storyteller. There are those, who when they see me in the village, stop me and ask what my story for the day is. I tell them all about my blogging friends and then I have to give them a version of the day’s story or tale. It is amazing how many people still do not have, or wish to have access to the internet.

One of the good things though, is that others then give me a story that I might be able to use or adapt. So I am now also becoming the collector of stories.

Yesterday I was out walking. As I walked I saw notices directing people to a,”Boat Fest.” I did not have a clue what this was but I followed the signs anyway. It turned out to be a meeting of people who had hand built boats. Marvellous works of art. There were craft stalls and all sorts of things. One stall had people smoking haddock in barrels. A local delicacy called, “Arbroath Smokies.” I purchased one and as I sat on the quay to eat it, out of paper, no other way to, a man sat next to me and asked what my story for the day was. He was like me visiting the fest. He then went on to tell me a story that today I am going to share with you because it moved me to tears.

It is an American story and I am leaving it as I was told it. I apologise if my friends over the pond have heard it.

At a fundraising dinner for an American school that serves learning disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

"When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?" The audience was stilled by the query.

Shay and his father had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked,” Do you think they'll let me play?" Shay's father knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but the father also understood that if his son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

Shay's father approached one of the boys on the field and asked if Shay could play, not expecting much. The boy looked around for guidance and said, "We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning."

Shay struggled over to the team's bench put on a team shirt with a broad smile and his Father had a small tear in his eye and warmth in his heart. The boys saw the father's joy at his son being accepted. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field.

Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as his father waved to him from the stands. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game? Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing the other team putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over, but the pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the head of the first baseman, out of reach of all team mates. Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, "Shay, run to first! Run to first!" Never in his life had Shay ever ran that far but made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, "Run to second, run to second!" Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to second base. By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team, who had a chance to be the hero for his team for the first time. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions and he too intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head. Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, "Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay" Shay reached third base, the opposing shortstop ran to help him and turned him in the direction of third base, and shouted, "Run to third! Shay, run to third" As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams and those watching were on their feet were screaming, "Shay, run home! Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the "grand slam" and won the game for his team.

That day, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world

Why do I like this story? Because it says this to me. That the answer to the fathers question at the beginning is in the story. When something tragic happens in life the tragedy can be made worse by how people respond to it. Here there was an opportunity for all to learn and turn tragedy into victory. It is all down to how we respond.

I am sorry this has been a long post but I thought the story deserved telling and passing on in its entirety.

This blog is linked to my other. Abstract MM1


  1. Good Morning, Ralph, great story, made my day!

  2. Beautiful story.

    I'm glad you've become the story collector, you do so well sharing them all. Have a good day, Ralph!

  3. That one made me cry. I think I just needed to cry anyway... and it was the catalyst. Especially because it was about kids. Thank you, Ralph.

  4. Thank you for being an artist, story teller and story collector, Ralph. I love this one.

  5. It's raining in Vancouver today. Seems right that tears fall when it's raining. Thank you for sharing.

  6. A beautiful story and worth telling again and again.

  7. You are an amazing man Ralph, I come here to learn something new each time you tell a story.. But this story has been there in my life for the last twenty years, I have a nephew with hearing impairment, he is yet to get a break in spite of his best efforts to be accepted by the main stream.I have seen it all and it is hard. May be Shay got luckier that day.

  8. Thanks Ralph. I must remember this.