He won games hand over fist. People came from all over just to watch him pitch. During his sophomore year, a professional scout was in the bleachers.

Behind a filling station. Middle of Nowhere, Georgia.

The kid was Master of the Mound. He stood on a pitching mound, throwing to his friend who wore a catcher’s mask. There was another holding a bat.

The first baseman shouted, “C’mon, throw the cutter!”

The kid pitched a ball so fast you only heard the smack of the catcher’s mitt.

The onlookers who watched the game were old men. They stood with hands in pockets, some with full lower lips. Spitting.

“He’s got scouts looking at him,” said one old man.

“He could be famous one day,” said another.

“He could be a major leaguer maybe.”

Baseball is poetry to watch. And this kid is a poet.

He is tall. Black. Wiry. He has long, powerful arms. And he has a story. The boy was found in a walk-in closet in a vacant house.

His biological mother left him there, wrapped in an old flannel shirt when he was a toddler. A few days after they found him, they found her at a house down the street. Expired.

“Drugs,” said the old man, who told the story. “Both his mama and daddy.”

The kid winds up. There’s the pitch. Smack. Strike three.

The old men applaud.

This is only a friendly game between local kids. We are approaching the end of summer. School has started.

It makes me feel good to know that kids still play baseball in rural parts of the world.

The child—who looks like a man—was adopted by a local youth minister and his wife. I’ll call them the Wilsons, even though that’s not their name.

The Wilson’s had four kids when they heard about the boy, they would not let him become part of the foster pinball machine.

Pastor Wilson adopted him.

But life isn’t a storybook. It wasn’t a happily ever after ending. It was only the beginning.

It’s been had work. The kid started to act out. He became angry when he was a grade-schooler. Nobody understood it. It got worse with each year. A bitterness ran deep in him.

“It was almost like he KNEW he’d been abandoned,” Pastor Wilson told me.

The pastor is no longer a youth minister, but pastor of his own congregation—and an air conditioner repairman, and a satellite dish installer.

“He was just so mad at the world,” the pastor went on. “I couldn’t get through to him, no matter what I did.”

So, the young minister tried something new. He had lettered in baseball long ago. He took the boy into the backyard and taught him to throw.

The kid was seven.

The pastor laughs. “He is a talent. He learned how to throw my breakaway curve ball when he was eight. I couldn’t believe it.”

The kid got better and better. Little League was a snap. He could play every position, and bat like a kid with his hair on fire.

And by the time he hit a growth spurt during middle school, something changed inside him. Seventh grade was his year.

“He just got so mellow,” said the pastor. “His anger was gone, and it was like he finally realized that we weren’t going anywhere, and even though our skin isn’t the same color, he knows we’re family.”

He won games hand over fist. People came from all over just to watch him pitch. During his sophomore year, a professional scout was in the bleachers.

“I was so proud,” said the pastor. “He’s my own flesh and blood.”

The game ended. The children left the field with their gloves resting on their heads, guzzling Gatorade bottles.

The pitcher left the mound. He’s all legs. He has a bright future before him, anyone can see that. He is Mister Baseball, wrapped in good looks, and athleticism.

But the chances of him pitching professionally are slim to none. I know this because I got it straight from his mouth.

I asked where the kid saw himself in the next five years.

“Aw, I don’t wanna play baseball,” he said. “I mean, it’s fun and everything, but I wanna help people.”

He hugged his father—the young minster who isn’t so young anymore. He has faded hair, and aged skin. The man was all smiles.

“I’m gonna be a minister, like my dad,” the boy said.

32 comments

  1. Cindy - August 11, 2018 5:54 am

    You make me smile and cry at the same time. You and your writings are such a blessing!

    Reply
  2. C.E. HARBIN - August 11, 2018 6:41 am

    Beautiful!

    Reply
  3. Glenda the good witch. - August 11, 2018 7:02 am

    I do hope you are happy at making me cry this early, “I don’t wanna cry this early this morning”. You get better and better at putting the words together that wring out my heart. When my husband came back from Nam, he was stationed at Pensacola. I worked with ladies from Alabama, trekked the same roads to Mobile and surrounding small town. We ate ‘melt in your mouth’ fried shrimp and hush puppies to die for. When I read your posts, it causes me to “see” where you are. I so appreciate your candor, I grew up with nine brothers and sisters on a small farm in MO. Two strong but gentle folk from North Carolina were pastor and wife and both were an integral part of my youth. You and Jaime would love them. Now, where was I going? oh yeah, for more coffee and kleenex. If you have never heard Guy Clark sing “I wouldn’t trade a tree” do give it a listen. “Anyhow I love you”, you’re an artist.

    Reply
  4. Beth Andrews - August 11, 2018 9:18 am

    God will use this young man in mighty ways! Love has the power to change the world – one person at a time. Thanks for this beautiful message Sean!

    Reply
  5. Cindy Varner - August 11, 2018 11:16 am

    Just want you to know that, no matter what, you have to keep writing. When I’m feeling a little low I can read one of your articles and, with misty eyes, fall in love with the world again. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Kathy - August 11, 2018 11:24 am

    ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  7. Nancy Thomaston Rogers - August 11, 2018 11:30 am

    Beautiful, just beautiful.

    Reply
  8. Penn Wells - August 11, 2018 11:38 am

    You see and hear stories like this and you wonder what it was that led Pastor ‘Wilson’ to take responsibility for an abandoned child…the courage, the faith, the stamina…it leaves me in awe because I’m pretty sure that many of us do not have what it takes to do that. What was it Emerson said? “…to make one life easier”….”to win the affection of children”…this is to have succeeded. Yes.

    Reply
  9. Melanie - August 11, 2018 11:46 am

    makes my heart smile ❤️

    Reply
  10. Marilyn - August 11, 2018 11:53 am

    Your words warm my heart every morning when I read them. Thank you for helping me start my day on a positive note with messages that make me think, and give thanks for my life.

    Reply
    • Grace - August 11, 2018 1:09 pm

      Sean, morning tears! Great one! 🤗

      Reply
  11. Charlotte Pelz - August 11, 2018 12:35 pm

    Ahhh . . . Loved this. I so needed this story this morning. Thank you.

    Reply
  12. Barbara Peters - August 11, 2018 12:47 pm

    This just might be the best of your stories so far. I actually felt it in my heart. Happy tears!!!

    Reply
  13. Edna B. - August 11, 2018 1:08 pm

    Thank you for another beautiful story. You have a wonderful day Sean. Hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  14. Harriet - August 11, 2018 1:18 pm

    Chill bumps. This is a great one, Sean.

    Reply
  15. Jack Darnell - August 11, 2018 1:34 pm

    being a PK myself, I like it.

    Reply
  16. Sue Cronkite - August 11, 2018 1:51 pm

    One of your best ones. He’ll make a great minister. He can teach broken kids to pitch their anger in a cutter, straight across home base.

    Reply
  17. Joy - August 11, 2018 2:27 pm

    Thank you Sean. Every day your stories inspire me and help me to really see people as created in the image of God. People who need love and need the same things I need. I am so blessed that you write!

    Reply
  18. Carla Dillenburg - August 11, 2018 2:29 pm

    Love.

    Reply
  19. Arlene - August 11, 2018 2:33 pm

    Beautiful story. We need more people in the world like this minister

    Reply
  20. Bobbie H - August 11, 2018 2:43 pm

    Awesome!

    Reply
  21. Gordon - August 11, 2018 3:31 pm

    Oh man. What a wonderful way to begin my Saturday morning-in tears. Great story; great ending. And I never saw the ending coming.

    Reply
  22. Steve Michaels - August 11, 2018 3:49 pm

    ”The pastor is no longer a youth minister, but pastor of his own congregation—and an air conditioner repairman, and a satellite dish installer.”

    If his father could repair air conditioning and satellite dishes AND be a preacher, perhaps the yound man can pitch AND preach. The name of former World Series champion pitcher Scott McGregor comes to mind.

    My partner’s daughter transferred from a major Texas University (Trinity). When I asked the young woman why, she answered, “I hated Texas. All Texans are bigots.” She saw no irony in her statement. There is an ongoing fiction created by a certain group of people that Southerners, particularly Christian ones, are racist haters. Your story would never appear in the MSM as it belies their narrative. Love is the answer, as this story tells.

    Reply
  23. Carol - August 11, 2018 4:39 pm

    It don’t get no better than that!!
    God has this. And he will be what God has in his plans for him!!
    Beautiful story and I hope I’m around when you write his next chapter!!
    Love ya!

    Reply
  24. Steve Welch - August 11, 2018 4:58 pm

    Great piece Sean. The kid, the minister and you have something in common- all three have a desireto “help people.” Sort of like a ministry. I am thankful in a world dominated by twitting egotiisical narrsicists and news of drugs, killing, etc., I can look forward each day to your positive world view to brighten my day.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  25. Melodie - August 11, 2018 5:38 pm

    This one hit a home-run with me! I say, the young man can be both! He can be anything he sets his mind and goals, to. His dad taught him that, as well.

    Thank you so much for my daily inspiration.

    Reply
  26. Susan Swiderski - August 11, 2018 6:56 pm

    I wish you had a megaphone and a huge platform so your stories could reach more ears and hearts. These are the kinds of stories we all need to hear. They put the “human” back in humanity.

    Reply
  27. Jane Coker - August 11, 2018 7:25 pm

    Thank you!!!!

    Reply
  28. Fr. Bob - August 11, 2018 11:58 pm

    Just what I needed after coming back from the funeral of a wonderful minister who died much too young from breast cancer. Lifted my spirits. Great story. You are a great writer.

    Reply
  29. Dianne Rathje - August 12, 2018 12:28 am

    Needed a Kleenex toward the ending — thanks so much for sharing.

    Reply
  30. Pat - August 12, 2018 11:06 pm

    My first words after reading the last line were…”How sweet”. And it was a beautiful story…I did not see the end coming though! I wish everyone in this country, no this world, could read this story on this day with all the protesting between whites and blacks going on the DC!

    Reply
  31. Summer H Hartzog - August 13, 2018 1:43 pm

    What a beautiful story. Kids like this are everywhere among us. And what a beautiful example this dad set for all of us. Instead of cursing the dark, he lit a candle in the life of this boy, and look what happened… his son plans to carry it on! Sean is right about the broken foster care system in our country, but it’s not always the doom sentence we make it out to be. There are many wonderful families called to foster children and some happy, successful adults who grew up in foster care. Sometimes the difference between an incompetent or marginal foster home and an excellent one is simply a little support from others. We’re not all called to be foster parents, but we can all support and encourage those who are. If your community or church doesn’t have a foster family support ministry, it’s not difficult to start one. Just contact the local child services agency in your community and ask how you can help. It’s really that simple. And the payoff is you may score a front row seat to beautiful stories like this one.

    Reply

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