Rusty Whitener - PASTOR, NOVELIST, SCREENWRITER

A Season Of Miracles page 2

Around the middle of March, about the time my hometown of Silas started to escape the grey Alabama winter, Little League baseball crowded out everything for my attention.

I wasn’t alone.  Those days, Little League in our county was something like when a small town holds a parade down Main Street.  Everybody goes, not really expecting to see the remarkable so much as the familiar.  Pretty near every kid in our town played the game.  And most every child’s parent went to watch, clap, groan, and cheer.

Little League is a game played simultaneously by Charlie Browns and Joe DiMaggios.  Most children that age are Charlie, still struggling with how to handle an oversized pencil, much less how to grip a baseball and hurl it any particular direction.  They are likely to throw the ball farther from their target than it was when they retrieved it.  They even sound like you imagine Charlie would, running in pre-adolescent distress to recover the ball they just threw in the wrong direction.  Charlies mosey around in the outfield, and DiMaggios man the infield.  If you hit the ball over the infielders’ heads, you probably have an easy double.

I don’t remember ever not being able to hit.  I didn’t think about it really.  Bring the bat to the ball and drive it on a line.  I was a little tall for my 12 years.  But I had something much better than size.  I was confident.  I knew I could hit the ball, and hit it hard.  Not every time, but most of the time.  And batting over .500 with power will scorch any league.

I was the best hitter I had ever seen.  Until that year.

It was a cool Saturday in mid March.  I called my best friend Donnie White, and he called Batman Boatwright and Jimmy Yarnell, our shortstop and left fielder.  I really didn’t spend lots of time with Batman and Jimmy through the rest of the year.  Just Spring and early Summer.  When Little League season came into focus, so did Batman and Jimmy.

I always took the back way to the old field, cutting through woods so thick and dark, it was like traveling and hiding at the same time.  My wicked cool bike, with butterfly handlebars and a fat banana shaped seat covered in leopard spots, gave me an edge in races with the guys.  But in woods that thick, I’d