Return of the Home Run Kid

Return of the Home Run Kid by Matt Christopher Read Free Book Online

Book: Return of the Home Run Kid by Matt Christopher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Matt Christopher
second base, then threw.
    Bong stepped into it, but let it go by.
    “Strike!” boomed the ump.
    “Way to go, Rick!” Sylvester yelled. “Mow ’im down, kid! Show ’im who’s in charge!”
    Act tough, sound tough, wasn’t that what Cheeko had been teaching him?
    The next pitch missed the plate by inches. Then Rick committed a serious error — he threw one in the dirt that skipped by Eddie and headed for the backstop screen.
    “Oh, no!” Sylvester moaned, as Eddie sprang to his feet, whirled, and bolted after the wild ball. He caught it as it bounced back from the screen, then whipped it to Rick, who had come in to cover home plate.
    But the runner on second had stopped on third. He’d only been off the base a short, safe distance when Rick swung around toward him. The runner on first, meanwhile, had advanced to second.
    Boy, that’s just great, Sylvester grumbled to himself. He could picture another run or two scoring easily, as he saw Coach Corbin walk out to the mound. After a few seconds, he patted Rick on the shoulder, then trotted slowly off the field.
    Sylvester wondered whether the coach should have taken Rick out, but he gave no indication. Never show the suckers you’re scared, that was another bit of Cheeko’s advice.
    Still standing tall on the mound, Rick again checked the runners, then delivered. The pitch was in there, and Bongo swung. Crack! It was a long, high fly to right center field.
    Almost before the sound of the bat meeting the ball faded, Sylvester started running toward it as fast as he possibly could, all the while hoping it would be Bobby’s ball.
    Then he heard Bobby’s clear, unquestionable call: “Take it, Syl! It’s all yours!”
    Take it? Was Bobby crazy? He didn’t have a chance. No way! It was Bobby’s ball, not his!
    But he had to try. He picked up more speed, though where it came from he was sure he didn’t know. Besides, since Bobby had dumped it on him, he
had
to do his best, even collapse in the attempt.
    At the very last moment, as the ball was dropping fast in front of him, he dove at it — and grabbed it in his gloved hand.
    For one split second, his mitt turned over from the impact and it felt as though the ball had wobbled out. But Sylvester recovered his wits and slid his glove forward, and showed the ball still inside, as though it had always been there.
    He lay on the turf for a moment, to catch his breath, as the cheers and whistles from the fans echoed and reechoed throughout the park.
    Finally, he pushed himself to his feet, rubbed some of the grass off the front of his uniform, and jogged off the field.
    As he ran, he glanced at Cheeko, who was standing and cheering with the fans. Sylvester could tell that Cheeko had seen
everything
and approved the way he had “recovered” the catch.
    Some of the guys shook his hand as he reached the dugout. Coach Corbin was beaming. “Another fantastic catch, Syl!”
    Even Bobby Kent came up to him this time and gave him a high five. “I knew it was your ball, Syl,” he admitted. “No way I could’ve gotten to it. You really surprised me out there!”
    “Surprised myself!” Sylvester laughed.
    “Okay, last chance,” cried the coach. “Let’s show ’em we’re not licked yet! Billy, call ’em off.”
    As Coach Corbin headed down to the third base coaching box, Billy Haywood called off the names of the first three batters: “Sobel! Sturgis! Coddmyer!”
    Sylvester’s ears perked up at the. sound of his name. He’d forgotten that he’d be batting this last half of the sixth inning — the last inning and the last chance to win the game. It seemed a pretty dim possibility, practically impossible, the way things had been going.
    Ted, who had flied out his first two times up, fouled off the first two pitches, putting himself into a hole right off. A swing and a miss now would mean the first out.
    As Sylvester clenched his fists and watched the action at the plate, a familiar voice beside him whispered

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