Randy was at a Little League game, watching his nephew play. Only, he was not paying attention to his nephew. He was watching the dugout.
A boy warmed the bench. He was all alone.
Maybe it was the way the kid held his head that made Randy feel so bad. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they hold their head. The kid sort of drooped his chin.
The game was in the eighth inning. The boy wore his uniform, it was spotless, no dirt. He sat beside the water cooler. Head down.
Randy made his way to the dugout and introduced himself. Randy asked why he wasn't playing on the field.
“‘Cause,” the boy said. “I ain't no good at baseball.”
“Don’t say ‘ain’t,’” Randy said. “It ain’t proper.”
This was a course of habit. For Randy’s whole life, his mother had corrected him for using the word “ain’t.”
“Aren’t,” Randy suggested. “Say ‘aren’t‘ instead.”
“Aren’t?” the boy said. “I AREN’T no good at baseball?
That ain’t right.”
Randy had to think long and hard. He couldn’t find the right word to say in place of “ain’t.”
The boy looked at Randy like the man’s wheel was spinning but the hamster was dead.
“Well,” said Randy. “It ain’t a real word, so don’t say ‘ain’t.’”
And so it went.
Randy told the kid his life story. It wasn’t a long tale, but it was a sad one. His father walked out on his mother when he was five. He had to grow up on his own, his mother worked two jobs.
The boy had a similar story. He was alone in this world, warming a bench.
But nobody needs to hear a hard luck story when they have one of their own. So Randy offered to help the kid improve at…