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Beating the big kids
by Bill Weintraub

Bill Weintraub and Ralph
Click for bigger picture
Bill Weintraub (left) and friend Ralph are ready to play ball. Author's note: "I don't want to give the impression we played stickball with a baseball bat or, heaven forbid, a baseball glove--how lame can you get?"
(Brooklyn, circa 1969) - I grew up in Brooklyn on a dead end street and I was a stickball fanatic. We pitched against a chalk drawn strike zone and hit down onto the freight train tracks. Up over the other side was a homerun. It was a pretty good shot--maybe 250 to 300 feet.

I remember one time my friend Ralph and I were playing against "the big kids"---guys 2 or 3 years older than us. But we were getting to the point in life where those years didn't mean so much anymore-- physically we were catching up. We may have been 15 or 16. Anyway, we were holding our own--striking them out and scoring runs against them. They were getting annoyed. One of our opponents had an even older brother. He was probably in his early twenties. Ralph and I had actually never even seen this guy before that day--or since. Well, these older guys are getting more and more embarrassed that the former "little kids" are beating them, so they decide to let the older brother pitch.

He starts warming up and man oh man did he have a fast ball. I literally could not see the ball as it exploded out of his hand. I am trying to time this guy while he is warming up and I realize he is just too fast for me to hit him. If you have ever been hit in the face with a spaldeen thrown with all of someone's might, you can imagine my reluctance to get into the batter's box. Right then and there I knew two things. Ralph and I are going to lose the game because we can't hit this guy. And the only thing I can do is swing at the first pitch as hard as I can.

I stepped into the batter's box and got into an exaggerated stance with the bat held far back and high. Every muscle was coiled. As soon as the pitcher started his windup on his very first pitch I started my swing. I did not even look at the ball, I just swung with every ounce of enegy that I had. And I connected. On the sweet part of the bat. Dead center on the ball. I never saw a ball go so far so high so fast. I creamed it. I obliterated it. It was a pea in the sky.

I will honestly never forget that shot. Everyone just stood there speechless. That was the only pitch they let him throw. He was immediately yanked from the game. If one of the "little kids" could do that to the first pitch, the "big kids" reasoned the pitcher must really stink. Thus saved from the unhittable older brother by what was really a lucky eyes closed shot, we won the game.

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