The Right Fielder

I have to tell you a story, a real story, not a fake one, or should I say make believe. The story is real, the person is real, but the name isn’t. I changed to the name because the name isn’t important to you, but it is important for the real person, of this real story, that I am about to tell to you. The story is about a boy named Joey and how Joey and I became friends. 

Joey is not very good at baseball, but that’s okay. This isn’t a story about baseball, it’s a story about Joey, and how Joey likes to play baseball. Joey isn’t his real name, we already talked about that, but Joey has real dogs, two of them actually, that he really loves. Joey plays right field because that’s where you play if you aren’t very good at baseball. I know Joey plays right field because I stand next to him, or to be more precise, he stands next to me. I stand in right field, and Joey stands next to me, and tells me about his dogs.

Are you ready Joey? I will ask at least two times, his stare piercing through me as if I am a ghost. Do you know where to throw the ball if it is hit to you? No reply. Do you have any pets? 

 

Yes, I have two dogs. His focus comes to me now, one boy and one girl.

Are they fast? I ask, trying to keep this conversation going.

Yes, they are super fast.

Are they faster than you?

Oh yes, they are much faster than me.

I bet I can outrun them

He chuckles, his stare no goes back somewhere that isn’t me.

 

Joey is a little boy, who wears little shoes, and a little glove that is much too small for his little hand. But Joey has a big smile, when he allows you to see it, and big beautiful brown eyes. I see his big beautiful brown eyes as I stand next to him in right field, but he doesn’t see mine. He sees something that I can’t but I want to. I want to see the beautiful place that the beautiful boy with big brown beautiful eyes sees. But I can’t. All I do is stand and wait for him to go there, and come back to me, when he is ready.

The ball is hit, the runners run, the players play, and I point. Joey stands. He is somewhere I am not, and I wish I were. For the place he is, is much more magical than where we are standing, on boring green grass in right field. He comes back to me for a moment and realizes the ball is hit to him. He gives chase, only to have another kid grab the ball first and throw it in. He isn’t upset, nor was he excited about the chase. We head back to our place in the field and back to our conversation about his dogs. He really loves his dogs.

I stand next to Joey because I do not want to stand next to my own kid. I love my kid but my kid does not love me, standing next to him. He loves me when we get ice cream, he loves me when it’s movie night, he loves me when we ride bikes. He hates me when we play ball. I hate that he hates me when we play ball, but I understand. I let him do his thing, and I take my place next to Joey, I mean, I take my place and I ask Joey to join me. I am in the right place, in right field.

This is Joey’s first time to play baseball, or I should probably clarify and say Tee-Ball, but Joey is a little boy in a big world, and in this big world we play a big boy’s game, baseball. We stand and get ready for the next batter. I ask him if he likes pickles, or if he thinks horses talk to each other when no one is around. No he doesn’t like pickles, and horses don’t talk. I’m glad we cleared that mystery up. The ball is hit, the players play, the runners run, and we stand. I like standing, I like standing next to Joey, and I think he likes standing next to me. I am wonderful company and he is a wonderful boy.

It is our turn to bat. This time I am standing at first, and Joey is up to bat. The coach takes his time, helps Joey adjust  his hands and adjust his stance. I adjust my cap and yell at Joey to come run to me after he hits the ball. He hits, he runs, I point. 

Stop here Joey. He stops his gallop, puts both feet on first base and looks again at his magical place. I pat his helmet, tell him he had a great hit, and point to the next bag. The one he will not run to after the ball is hit. He will stop five feet from the bag and stand, waiting for me to tell him what to do. I tell him he has to go back to the dugout and wait. His gallop is now a trot, and my gaze starts to see the magical place.

We return to the right place in right field.. We talk more about things, dinosaurs, his favorite cereal, how high does he think frogs can jump. He answers some of the questions, and lets the others just blow by him. He doesn’t worry about the score, the weather, or even when his turn is to bat. He is a small boy with big beautiful eyes, living in a beautiful world, and he is happy. And he makes me happy to be standing in right field. 

His stare is not grim. He stands silently and motionless. He stares at his magical place the way one might stare at the mountains for the first time. Joey sees a world that I haven’t seen in a long time, but would like to again. He sees a world void of hate, and sadness, and cynicism. Joey is a small boy standing in a big green field surrounded by dozens of screaming people, and he is somewhere we all want to go. I can not go there with him, but I can smile and watch his big beautiful brown eyes and see that he is there, and I am happy because I know he is. 

That night I imagine Joey goes back to his wonderful house and plays with his two dogs, the ones he really loves. He will not think about the game, nor will he care to. I will though. I will think about the little boy with the big beautiful eyes. And as I sit in my truck and think about the little boy with the big beautiful eyes that really loves his dogs, I begin to see the magical place, the magical place that Joey sees, the one that has no hate, the one I forgot about. I sit in my old truck with my old eyes and see the magical place, and I don’t blame the beautiful boy for wanting to stay there. 

Joey is a little boy that taught me a big lesson. And I will be happy to be in the right place with the right player in right field.