Glory Days by Monty giest |

Glory Days by Monty giest

I was the hero of the 1965 Sebastapool Pony League baseball championship game.

My team, the Giants, was undefeated through the second half of the season.

That meant a showdown with the winner of the first half of the season for the title.

I played left field and pitched in relief when our ace got in trouble.

Our ace was a 6-foot, 2-inch, 14-year-old farm boy. He threw the ball harder than anyone I had ever seen.

Unfortunately, the fastball was his only pitch. If he got in trouble, he would lose control and tend to walk batters across the plate.

That’s where I came in.

I never claimed to be a pitcher, but it worked out because my style was just the opposite of the ace. I didn’t even have a fastball.

I did have a wicked curve and a riser that didn’t rise, but had a lot of spin.

My pitches were so slow, opposing players would swing at bad pitches, just trying to kill the ball. All I wanted to do was get the ball over the plate.

To the big game.

It seemed like the entire town of Sebastapool turned out. This was big for Little League.

It came down to the last inning.

We were down 1-0 going into the top of the last inning.

The other team led off with a double. That rattled our ace.

He walked the next two batters to load the bases. I was praying he would get out of the jam.

My heart sank and my knees weakened as I saw our ace walk in a run.

My coach gestured to me to come up and take the mound. I took a deep breath, put my brain on automatic pilot, and convinced myself I was a pitcher.

The first two batters I faced popped up, and the third hit grounded out.

It was now 2-0 in the bottom of the last inning.

Things looked good as I drew a couple of walks right off the bat.

Then, grins turned to frowns as their pitcher fanned the next two.

I stepped to the plate, nervous.

Somehow, I managed to stretch the count to full.

This guy threw almost as hard as our ace, but he had control over four different pitches.

I knew the next ball would be a strike, but which pitch?

Then, out of nowhere, I heard, ‘Fastball, inside corner.’ Was it a spectator? My imagination?

Either way, I listened.

I started my swing earlier than usual. I made contact with the meat of my bat and smashed a line drive three feet over the third baseman’s outstretched glove.

There was no outfield fence so the ball kept rolling. I ran so hard, I tripped over third base and hit the ground.

Not to worry, because the left fielder hadn’t even made it to the ball yet.

I scored. We won the championship.

Monty Giest lives in the Grass Valley area.

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