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  • I watched Moneyball today. It's a baseball movie but it's not necessarily about baseball. But then... it is. The film's protagonist, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), was a first-round draft choice who failed to make it in the major leagues but became successful (to a degree) as a general manager. While his failure to make it in "the bigs" isn't the emphasis of the film, it's there. It plays a small—though significant—role. Baseball has always been described as a game of redemption, and Moneyball is a testament to that notion.

    For as long as I can recall, I have loved playing baseball. We (and by we, I mean any assortment of friends and/or brothers who might have been available at any given time) would play in the field behind our house (where a factory now stands) or at Bauer field (where condos now stand) a couple of blocks up the street. We all loved baseball so much that we found ways to play it despite lacking eighteen players. "Strikeout" enabled us to play with as few as one person per team. It required a wall, usually, a hard-and-fast strike zone drawn on that wall, a rubber baseball, and bats.

    So... when I turned 9, I was old enough to try out for my grade school's PeeWee team. I played pick-up games regularly with just about everybody who tried out that year, and we all knew each other's abilities as well as where we stood in relation to each other's skills. As far as I was concerned, I was a shoe-in to make the team. I was fast, hit the ball hard and had power. When the final cuts came, however, I didn't make the team. To say I was devastated is an understatement. I cried in public for the one time in my life.

    Later that year, while at my friend Ray's house, his grandfather—the man at the right in the photo—came in, and, as he walked upstairs, he laughed while calling me a crybaby and making boohoo sounds.

    Wound... meet salt.

    The next summer, 1966, the year this photo was taken, I made the team but sat the bench for eight of our first game's nine innings. We were losing by quite a few runs to our arch-rival, Oakdale. As a matter of letting some of the bench-sitters get into a game, Coach Abernathy (that man) told me to grab a bat to pinch-hit. I drilled a pitch down the left field line for a triple. I started every game after that, leading the team in home runs and most other offensive categories. The team voted me Most Valuable Player. I felt vindicated. Redeemed.

    Coach Abernathy, on the other hand, was forced to resign in disgrace after he recruited an over-aged player to join the team mid-season.

    Photographer: Unknown
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