The boys hover in ready positions in the field, eyes fixed on the batter. They’re chomping sunflower seeds and Big Chew grape gum. Even though it’s only the first inning, sweat slicks hair to their foreheads. Their bright yellow team shirts—tucked into their pants—have “Glen’s Dry-O-Mart” screen-printed on the front. They chose their uniform numbers carefully. The coach’s son took number 18. The pitcher, number 10. The third baseman is number 13, but only because he likes to buck the current and he thinks it’s lucky. They look ready. A pop fly sails to center field, and three players drift together, backs toward each other, arms outstretched, eyes blinded by the sun. The ball bounces off a glove to the grass at their feet, and parents from the other team cheer from the bleachers. “You gotta call it,” the first baseman yells toward them. They throw the ball back to the pitcher and drag back to their positions, shaking their heads. “Be a hitter, Dylan, be a hitter now,” says the third base coach, as the batter moves into the box. His voice rings in their ears. “Choke up, Dylan…choke up on the bat.” They take a deep breath, and wait for the next one. This time, they’ll be ready.
Photo by Stu Seeger