"Strike three, you're out!" Boomed
voice of the home plate umpire.
Before I had fully realized what was going on, I found myself lying
flat on my back, with our team's catcher -- and my best friend --
Brennan on top of me, hugging me tightly. Brennan wasn't a big boy, but
it was still enough to knock the wind out of me.
And it wasn't exactly a pleasant experience as our other teammates
began piling on top, one-by-one, either. The strong smell of a pack of
sweaty twelve-year-old boys who had just played six long innings of
all writhing around on top of me, along with the dirt from the
pitcher's mound finding its way into my mouth and nose, was not my idea
of a good time.
What ever happened to just dumping a
bucket of Gatorade on someone? Sheesh!
But, nevertheless, we had just won the regional Little League baseball
tournament, so there was good reason to be excited. Not only had we
won, but I had pulled off another shut-out, allowing only two hits
during the entire
game, and struck out fifteen batters. Considering our team was only
able to score one run of our own the entire game, that was pretty damn
"Dude, we're going to Williamsport!" Brennan was shouting at me from
within the pile.
Yes, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home of the Little League
International organization, which hosted an international baseball
tournament every August to find the best Little League baseball team in
world. We were now one of sixteen teams from across the United States,
and the world, that were headed to the biggest event in youth sports.
After a few more moments of rolling around on the
ground, getting squeezed, poked, and even getting my ass slapped a few
times, I was finally able to break free from the mass of excited
boys, wipe some of the dirt off my uniform, and glance around the
field. It was a warm night, perfect for baseball, and with our big
victory, the crowd was roaring, cameras were flashing, and it seemed
like mass hysteria was breaking out all around me.
It wasn't all excitement, though. Amidst all of the celebrating, I saw
our opponents for that evening only a few yards away. A couple of boys
were sitting in the grass, crying with their heads in their hands. A
few others were cursing themselves, and one big kid was even yelling at
the poor kid who had just struck out. I didn't see how it was fair to
blame him, though. Not every twelve-year-old kid is able to hit a 77
mph fastball, which was the speed clocked on the
scoreboard's radar gun. That would be the equivalent of about a 100
mph pitch on a Major League field. No, that poor kid didn't stand a
One scene that really stuck out to me, though, was the cute young
pitcher, who had really pitched a hell of a game, sobbing his eyes out,
and the equally cute catcher was hugging him tightly and gently petting
his shaggy blond hair. I wasn't exactly sure why, but it touched me,
almost to the point of making me cry, too.
As I continued to look around and take in all of the sights around me,
I noticed a couple of camera crews descending upon us. Being the shy
boy that I was, I wanted to avoid that part of the celebratory process
all costs. Fortunately, our coach was all too familiar with my
personality (or as Brennan would say, my lack thereof) and distaste for
publicity, and cut the
cameras and reporters off before they could get to me, giving me a
chance to grab
Brennan's hand and make a beeline for the locker room.
I was there to play ball, have fun, and win for my team, not to become
a twelve-year-old celebrity, especially after one particular incident
where the local news had tried to interview me on camera after we won
the State championship. I couldn't string together a coherent sentence,
stuttering and babbling like a fool the whole time. I sounded like a
total dork. So, needless to say, I wasn't anxious to have another
experience like that again any time soon, even though Brennan probably
wouldn't have minded getting on TV and showing off as he was prone
to do. In that respect, I guess we'd always been a bit like "yin" and
"yang," but somehow we just clicked.
Brennan and I had been best friends since we were five years old and in
the same kindergarten class. I could never forget that first day of
school. I was completely beside myself with fear as I walked alone into
that classroom, having just moved to the area and not knowing a single
person. After our teacher, Miss Kilduff, showed me where my cubbyhole
was, I wandered over to the farthest corner of the room and sat down,
playing idly with a small Tonka truck that I found sitting there.
I had no interest in trying to meet any of the other kids that were
running around, laughing, and playing with each other. They all seemed
to already know each other and I didn't think they would have any
interest in me, the new kid. That
all changed, though, when one little boy with a shaggy mop of brown
curly hair and big brown eyes came over and plopped down next to me on
"Hi, I'm Brennan," he chirped. "What's your name?"
"Grady," I mumbled, keeping my eyes focused on my truck.
I wanted to run away and find a new corner where no one would bother
me, but there was something about his bright smile, and those eyes,
that kept me glued to that spot.
"Will you be my friend?" he asked, scooting even closer to me.
I may not have wanted a friend right at that moment, but I needed one. And so, from that day
Brennan and I were inseparable.
That same afternoon, after school let out for the day, I didn't know
which bus I was supposed to
take home, and ended up missing the bus altogether. It was Brennan who
found me crying on the curb in front of the school.
"Why are you crying, Grady?" he asked, sitting down beside me and
arm around my shoulder.
"I missed my bus," I sobbed.
"That's okay, my daddy can take you home," he announced, in that
ever-cheery voice of his.
impression of Brennan's dad, Mr. Bellinger, was that he was very tall,
and seemed pretty young
for a daddy. But, he had a warm smile, just like Brennan, and didn't
give me much of a choice as to whether or not I wanted a ride home.
Since I only had my address written down on a scrap of paper, and
couldn't find my way home by myself if I tried, I didn't have much of a
choice. Brennan jumped into the back seat with me and held my hand the
entire way home.
I was totally embarrassed when we got to my house and they saw the kind
of shit-hole we lived in. Even at the tender age of five, I knew that
was poor, and I was also well aware of the terms "white trash" and
"redneck," which I was certain applied to me. I also knew that my
parents didn't seem to care too much for
me. They never beat on me or anything, except for the occasional
lashing with a belt when I was naughty. But, they didn't pay much
attention to me, either. On the rare occasions that I ever asked for
something, like a new pair of sneakers to replace the ones that already
had the heels worn off, they told me I was lucky to have a roof over my
head and not to be living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.
When they put it that way, I guess I was lucky!
My dad was a veteran of the
first Persian Gulf War. He'd gotten really sick when he came back, with
something called "Gulf War Syndrome," and
I guess he had some pretty bad experiences while he was over there.
Sometimes, though, I wondered if I was the real reason they'd become so
fucked up, because apparently it wasn't too long after I arrived in the
my dad went bat-shit crazy.
From the few memories that I still had from when I was really little,
my mom wasn't always such a hopeless drunk and dead-beat. But, I guess
all the pressure from
having a messed up husband finally got to her, and I just became too
much of a burden, and by the time I was four years old and she figured
could pretty much look after myself most of the time, she started
tipping back bottles of Southern Comfort and never stopped.
Sure, there were moments of sobriety mixed in among the hours of being
out drunk on the living room couch or never even coming home at all.
Somehow, my mom managed to get to the grocery store occasionally, paid
with the small amount of money my dad got from his disability check
from the army, and took me to the Salvation Army store to get clothes
when I needed them. But, that was about the extent of what she did for
me. Before I was old enough to go to school, it was Mrs. Tyson, an
elderly woman who lived down the block at our old house, who took care
of me most days until I was old enough to go to school.
I did have a couple of friends in my old neighborhood, and I was
looking forward to starting kindergarten with them and being a "big
boy." But, when my dad started ranting and raving that "they" were out
to get him one day, we suddenly just picked up and moved, ending up in
yet another white trash ghetto in a brand new town in Northern
Michigan, with no friends,
and two parents who couldn't care less about helping their
boy to adjust to a new environment.
So, it was definitely a big change from my old way of life when Brennan
inviting me over to his house almost every day after school
and every weekend. I didn't know enough to feel like I was imposing,
and since I couldn't help but feel somehow magnetically drawn to him, I
just went along with it, maybe more curious than anything else at first.
Once Brennan had become my best friend, I soon realized how different
the lives of other little boys were from
mine. For example, it totally boggled my mind when he and I would just
sit there at the
kitchen table while his father made snacks for us. I'd always heated up
own Chef Boyardee in the microwave or made peanut butter and jelly
sandwiches for myself. I thought Brennan was so lucky to have a daddy
Brennan's house wasn't exactly a mansion, but it sure seemed like one
to me. My 'room' at home wasn't much bigger than a closet, my bed was
just an old, worn-out mattress, I kept my clothes in a cardboard box
instead of a
dresser, there was a gaping hole in the wall, and the only toys I had
were a couple of Star Wars figures with no arms that I happened to have
in my pockets when my dad flipped out and decided to leave our old town
in the dead of night.
Compared to the cramped and filthy conditions I was used to living in,
Brennan's room was amazing. His walls were covered with posters of
famous baseball players; he had his own television, a Playstation, and
toys. Everything was decorated in dark blue, from the sheets and fluffy
duvet on his bed, to the curtains and upholstery on the chair at his
desk.When I first saw his room, I felt a little jealous. Why couldn't
I have a life like that, with a cool room and cool stuff? But, when
Brennan told me that I could play with any of his toys whenever I
wanted, and even take some home with me to play with, I soon forgot all
about feeling jealous and just felt grateful that someone as cool and
nice as Brennan wanted to be friends with me.
Another great thing about being at Brennan's house was that his dad was
there most of the time. Mr. Bellinger was some kind of translator and
worked from home. I didn't
really understand much about what he did, other than he spent a lot of
time in front the computer, typing away at what seemed like a million
miles a minute and sometimes talking to himself in a language I didn't
understand. But, if it kept him around, I was all for it. When my dad
was actually home, he was usually passed out drunk on the couch, or
sometimes even the kitchen floor.
Although Mr. Bellinger seemed like such a good daddy, I wondered why
Brennan didn't seem to have a mommy around. My mother wasn't exactly
the greatest in the world, but I couldn't imagine what it would be like
to not have one at all. When I asked
him why, I saw him cry for the first time. He told me that she was "in
heaven." Seeing how much it upset Brennan, I never asked about it
again. It was only later that I learned from Mr. Bellinger that she had
died from cancer
when she was only twenty-one years old, shortly after Brennan was born.
Like I said, I absolutely loved staying at Brennan's house. The first
time he invited me to spend the night, his dad came inside my house
with me after school on a Friday afternoon to see if it was okay with
my parents. I knew they wouldn't give a fuck, but he insisted. It was
one of those rare times that one of my parents was
even home, and I think that when my dad's only response to Mr.
Bellinger was to grunt and tell him to get him another beer from the
fridge on his
way out, that
sealed the deal for allowing me to spend as much time at the
Bellinger's house as
possible. Again, I wasn't complaining.
Even though the sleepovers were only on the weekends and I still had to
live at my own house most nights, it didn't really bother me, because
every night, I reminded myself that I would see Brennan and his dad the
very next day. I could put up with a little loneliness for what I knew
I would be getting at Brennan's house. Plus, I now had some of
Brennan's toys in my room to keep me company.
After that first time that Mr.
Bellinger "met" my dad, every time I went to Brennan's house, he asked
me how my parents were doing and if I was doing okay. It got to be such
routine that as soon as I got in the door, I would answer his questions
before he had even asked them. One time, when I was a little older, he
even sat me down and asked me if I'd like to stay with him and Brennan
permanently, but I told him I wanted to stay at home. Despite their
many faults, they were my parents, after all. I didn't go to school
with bruises all over my body, and usually there was enough food to get
by. Sure, I guess it would have been cool to live with Brennan, but it
just didn't feel right to me ... not then, anyway. I wasn't exactly
"happy" at home, but it was still my home, and it would have felt wrong
to just leave.
That first night that I spent at his house was a real eye-opening
experience for me. At first, when I saw how affectionate
his dad were with each other, I got a little jealous again, just like
when I'd first walked into Brennan's room. That soon faded,
too, though, when they both showed me just as much affection as they
did with each other. I'd never
really known what it was like to be hugged and tickled constantly, but
I loved it. My favorite was when Brennan's dad would toss me over his
shoulder and smack my butt, while Brennan tickled my feet. And even
though I screamed and pleaded for them to stop, I didn't really want
That was also the night that I fell in love with baseball for the first
After stuffing ourselves with Chinese take-out,
all three of us settled down on the couch to watch a Detroit Tigers
baseball game on their huge high-definition television. As
the game went on, Brennan's dad patiently explained as many of the
and strategies to me as my young mind could handle. I listened intently
and committed everything
he said to memory, asking tons of questions along the way. I think
Brennan was a
little surprised at how talkative I was around his dad, considering I
hardly ever opened my mouth at school. But, I was so fascinated and
couldn't help myself.
That night, as we lay on Brennan's bed, with him spooned up behind me
and an arm draped over my small frame, I stared at the posters of the
baseball players on his walls and dreamed that one day I could be like
The next morning, I begged Brennan's dad to teach me more about
baseball, so the three
of us ended up in the backyard with a ball, three gloves, and a bat. We
ran into a little problem, though, when I tried sticking the glove on
my hand and it didn't seem to work right.
"What's wrong with this glove?" I asked. "Why won't it go on?"
Mr. Bellinger chuckled. "You're a southpaw, buddy. You need a different
kind of glove."
"What's a southpaw?" I asked, totally clueless.
"Well, Grady, that means you throw with your left hand," he explained.
"Brennan and I are both righties, so we need to get you a different
Forty-five minutes later, after a quick trip to the local sporting
goods store to pick up a brand-new glove and a Detroit Tigers ball cap
for me to wear, we were back in the yard and I was learning how to
and throw a baseball for the first time.
I couldn't get enough of it, and I wanted to play every day. When
Brennan's dad was busy working, Brennan and I would play catch by
ourselves, and we watched baseball almost every evening on TV. When the
season was over and there weren't anymore games to be watched, I was
devastated. Fortunately, our own playing in the backyard didn't let up.
By the following spring, Mr. Bellinger had enrolled us both in a local
Little League tee-ball program. I was terrified of being around all of
kids again, especially since I was convinced that they were all
probably really good, and I was going to suck. But, with Brennan and
Bellinger there coaching, I quickly settled in and started having a
blast. At not quite seven years old, we were pretty bad, but that
I was having the best time of my life, and I felt like I'd found a
brand new family.
My parents even seemed to be a little proud of me ... or something.
Despite the fact that most of the small amount of money my dad got from
his disability checks went to feeding their alcohol binges, they
to cough up a few bucks to help pay for the Little League fees and my
uniform, though I think Mr. Bellinger ended up paying for most of it
By the time we were nine years old, we'd started looking quite a bit
ridiculous out on the field. And, it was then that I found my calling
... to be a
pitcher. What was even more perfect was that Brennan loved
catching for me. Mr. Bellinger and the other coaches spent a lot of
time with me, teaching me how to grip and throw the ball, how to
control the pace of a game, and perhaps
more importantly, teaching Brennan and I how to work together as a
team. That wasn't very difficult, since we were always together and
seemed to always know exactly what the other was thinking.
When we weren't at team practices, we spent hours practicing alone in
Brennan's yard. And when we weren't practicing, we were watching
baseball on television, playing baseball video games,
collecting baseball cards, or talking about baseball. Baseball had
become my life. I don't know what I would have done if Brennan or his
dad had suddenly lost interest, because there was nothing else I wanted
Little League alone wasn't enough for us, though, so we also got
involved with our middle school baseball team, a traveling team, and a
too. And although that meant a lot more playing time for both of us
each week and almost all year long, it also meant a lot more practice
time, too. I didn't like all of the repetitious drills that we had to
go through, or all the running, but Mr. Bellinger explained how
important it was to condition ourselves. One
drawback to all the playing we were doing, though, was that we couldn't
work too hard during our back
yard practice sessions; otherwise, my arm would have gotten too tired
out. So, we started using that time to focus more on our batting. That
went pretty well, except for the three or four broken windows in
Brennan's house that summer.
We had also started lifting some weights in Brennan's basement. Mr.
Bellinger didn't like the idea at first, insisting that we were too
lifting weights could damage our growth. He eventually gave in when
Brennan used his 'pouty face' -- enough to make the toughest guy melt
into a pile of goo -- but we had to promise to take it easy, and we
did. I didn't want to get big and bulky anyway, so I mostly focused on
increasing my arm strength.
By the summer when we turned eleven, we had become a two-man wrecking
crew on the field. My fastball was already clocked at over 70 mph, and
I had learned
how to throw a nasty curveball and change-up. My curveball had a
tendency to be a little on the wild side from time to time, but Brennan
could usually tell where it was going and rarely let one get past him.
where most coaches called all of the pitches for players our age, Mr.
Bellinger and the other coaches left those calls up to us. Brennan
spent a lot of time checking out the players on the other team, and had
good instincts about when to challenge a hitter with a hard fastball up
the middle of the plate, or when to trick them with a wicked curveball.
wasn't just a good catcher, though. He was an excellent hitter, one of
the best on our team. He credited that to having to learn to
hit the heaters that I threw to him during our training sessions in his
back yard. As it turned out, he was one of the few Little Leaguers who
could hit off of me.
It got annoying that I couldn't pitch in every single game, as pitchers
need to rest their arms. Mr. Bellinger never let me throw more
than 85 pitches per game, and I hated it when I had to be pulled
out early. Since I couldn't pitch all the time, I usually ended up
put at first base for the rest of the games, and I got to be pretty
good at that position as well. When I was pitching that season, though,
I gave up a total of only five runs, and pitched a division record of
Despite the little sensation my pitching skills caused in our league,
really like all of the attention. When my teammates, their parents, and
some of the
opposing players and coaches tried to congratulate me after a game and
tell me how amazing I was for my age -- with a few of the dads even
joking around about my future prospects in the Big Leagues -- I usually
just smiled shyly and tried to get away from them
quickly as possible. It's not that I didn't believe in myself; I knew I
was an outstanding pitcher. It was just embarrassing, and there were a
lot of other good players on our team, so it made me feel bad when I
got all the attention and the others didn't.
It was only when I was
alone with Brennan that I allowed myself to relish in
my success, and he helped to encourage me, giving me the nickname "El
Diablo," meaning "The Devil," because that's how he said the opposing
thought of me whenever I took the mound. The younger brother of one of
our teammates also began the tradition of blasting Jimi Hendrix's
classic "Voodoo Child" on a boom box when I took the field to take my
warm-up pitches at the beginning of every game I started, both to shake
up the other team a little, and also to get our team fired up.
I actually found it kind of amusing that I was so "intimidating" as a
pitcher, because I wasn't the most physically imposing kid on the
field. I was only average height for a twelve-year-old, about 5 feet 5
inches when I was measured for the district tournament, and I was
pretty scrawny, too. In one game, during the regular season, I tried
using my best 'mean glare,' à la Ty Cobb (the meanest baseball player
ever), to intimidate the other team,
but Brennan said that with my shaggy blond hair, big blue eyes, and
baby face, it looked more silly than anything else.
Even though I was having the time of my life every time I went out on
the field, baseball was more than just a game for me. I never felt
better than I did when I was on the mound pitching. It wasn't so much
the thrill of winning that I enjoyed, but when I was out there, I felt
like I was in control of my life. I couldn't do anything
about my messed up family or my financial situation, but on that field,
the outcome was entirely up to me. And, having so much insecurity in my
young life, and never really being able to trust someone, baseball
taught me about trust -- even if my total trust was given only to my
best friend and catcher, Brennan.
During those few years of learning the game, not only did Brennan and I
grow as baseball players, but our friendship grew
even stronger than ever. There was absolutely no doubt in anyone's mind
that Brennan was my best friend, and that I was his. Like any kid who
was good at sports, I guess I was pretty popular, but I usually didn't
want to have anything to do with the other kids.
The only boy I really
cared about was Brennan. He knew that I got extremely shy and nervous
around other people, so when we were invited to other kids' houses for
sleepovers or just to hang out and goof around, he always made up
excuses why we couldn't go.
Sometimes, I felt bad that I was keeping him from making other friends,
but at the same time, it made me feel good that I was the most
important one in his life.
Even so, when we turned twelve years old, and puberty was starting
to set in, things started getting a little weird. Brennan and I had
been looking forward to puberty ever since his dad had the "sex talk"
with us when we were 7 or 8 years old. Little did we know at the time,
though, that it was going to end up being so confusing and emotional
for both of us, and no matter how much Mr. Bellinger had tried to
prepare us, it was bound to be a messy, tear-filled, and traumatic
Brennan's dad had remarked a few times over the previous several months
that he thought I was getting taller, but the whole puberty thing
didn't really get my attention until one night when I was taking a piss
in Brennan's bathroom and he was stepping out of the shower, and I
noticed that he'd started to sprout a small dusting of hair around the
base of his little tally-wacker. Obviously, being as close as we were
all of the time, it wasn't the first time I'd seen Brennan naked, and
he'd seen me plenty of times, too. But, maybe because I was so used to
it, I never really paid much attention to it.
"Dude, when did you start getting hair down there?" I asked, surprised.
Since I didn't have anything down there yet, I suddenly started feeling
a little self-conscious, so I quickly pulled up my tighty-whities.
"I dunno," he mumbled as he dried his hair with a towel. "A couple
months, I guess."
That was the end of that conversation, but after that, I started paying
more attention as Brennan started to fill out and grow up.
It also got me to start noticing the other boys in our gym class when
we were changing. In middle school, we didn't have to take showers
after P.E. class, so I didn't get to see much more than the other boys
in their underwear. And although that didn't entirely satisfy my
curiosity, I was glad that we didn't have to take showers. Except for
Brennan, I was very shy and self-conscious about my body. Even though I
practically ate Mr. Bellinger out of house and home every weekend and
had been lifting some weights, I was still scrawny, totally hairless,
and didn't look nearly as good as some of the other boys that I saw in
the locker room. I was so embarrassed, in fact, that on days that we
had to wear a cup, I wore mine the whole day, so I wouldn't have to
reveal my "business" when I was changing. Brennan must have noticed,
but he never said anything about it.
At least I wasn't the only one, though. There were still
a lot of other kids like me without much going on in the puberty
department, and some of them seemed just as self-conscious as me,
pulling their shirts down as low as possible to cover themselves when
they were changing out of their jock straps and looking around
before taking off their shirts.
There were other guys, though, including Brennan, who didn't seem to
care at all. They walked around the locker room in just their
underwear, chatting with each other and goofing off like it was the
most natural thing in the world. They seemed so confident about
themselves, and that just made me want to stare even more, not just
tight young bodies, but imaging what it might feel like to be like them.
After months of staring at the other boys in the locker room, though, I
started wondering if it was weird that I was
looking at other guys so much in the first place, and if any of them
(especially Brennan) were looking at me the same way. Never one to keep
anything from Brennan, and after several days of
serious contemplation, I finally came out with it and asked him.
"I guess so, yeah," came his simple reply.
"You don't think it's kinda perverted?" I asked, trying to hide the
worry from my voice.
"Nah, not really," he answered, shrugging his shoulders.
"Do you ever look at me?" I asked, quickly turning around so he
wouldn't see me blushing.
"Of course," he giggled. "You've got a cute butt!"
I couldn't hide my blushing anymore, as Brennan pushed me onto the bed
and sat on my chest.
"Awwww, little Grady is blushing!" he squealed, pinching my cheek and
making goofy faces at me.
"Fuck you!" I shot back, trying to act angry, but not doing a very good
job of holding back my laughter.
Brennan was always good at that, being able to take a potentially
embarrassing and awkward moment and playing it off so well.
After that conversation, we started talking more about what our bodies
were going through, pointing out when each other had entered a new
'stage' of our development, and teasing each other endlessly about it
-- especially whenever we popped a woody.
One thing we didn't do, though, was talk about what we were feeling.
And I was feeling a lot. But the problem was that I wasn't really sure what I was feeling. I was more
emotional than usual, sometimes feeling like I wanted to cry over the
littlest thing. I was getting more and more self-conscious about my
body, constantly wondering what other people were thinking about me,
and I always tended to assume the worst. Was my nose too small? Were my
feet too big? Why hadn't my voice changed yet? Did I sound like a girl?
Did anyone notice that boner I had? Why were those kids looking at me
funny? What were other kids saying about me when I wasn't around? It
was like a constant and growing anxiety about nearly everything, and
sometimes it really drove me crazy.
to ask Brennan about all of this stuff that I was feeling so badly, but
as a part of the whole "boy going
through puberty" thing, I was starting to get the feeling that there
were some things that boys just didn't talk about -- not even with
Brennan. Nor could I talk with him about my now nightly jack-off
ritual, which I had learned about a year before while surfing around on
the Internet on Brennan's computer one night after he'd fallen asleep.
The first few times I tried it, nothing much happened, but then one
night as I lay on my bed back at home, stroking my little dick and
thinking about Brennan's smooth, lean body pressed up against me, the
way his his small, pale white butt cheeks and slender hips moved when
he walked, his cute little "outie" belly button, his flawlessly
beautiful face and stunning eyes ... a brand-new sensation began to
well up deep in my small, hairless balls, and I felt my whole body
start to tremble as the feeling spread throughout my entire body, slow
at first and then explosively, sending me into a state of intense bliss
that my mind had a difficult time grasping. It was my first orgasm, a
dry one at that, but one I would never forget, especially since I
realized that it was my fantasizing about my best friend that had
caused it. That was something I definitely wouldn't be sharing with
Brennan anytime in the near future.
But, despite all of the changes we were beginning to go through, and my
newly found fascination with the young male body,
baseball still remained the center of my universe, the one thing I
could fall back on when the confused thoughts screaming in my head
became almost too much to handle. It was my refuge, my sanctuary. It
was the one place where I was an equal with all of the other boys, and
if you had skills like I did, physical development didn't matter.
The night we won the regional tournament was easily the best night of
my life. It wasn't the
easiest ride, though.
We had to get through the district, sectional, and state tournaments
meant we were playing the best of the best. It was very nerve-wracking
for me, because since I couldn't pitch every game, I was biting my
nails and had butterflies doing summersaults in my stomach whenever
another pitcher was out there. It wasn't that I didn't have confidence
in my teammates, but I couldn't control the game as much from first
base as I could from the mound.
The real fun started when we made it to the regional tournament,
though. For that, we got to travel out-of-state and stay in a hotel. Of
course, Brennan and I shared a room, and we convinced Brennan's dad to
stay in his own room. If he'd known that the reason we almost lost the
first game in the tournament because we were hung-over from raiding the
mini-bar in our room the night before, he probably would've ended up
moving in with us on the second night and grounding us for a year (yes,
Mr. Bellinger would have grounded me, too).
I wasn't pitching in that game, so I couldn't screw things up too bad,
but Brennan struck out three times and let seven pitches get past him,
three of which scored runs for the other team. Fortunately, the rest of
our team's bats were hot that night, and we ended up scoring fifteen
runs, a record for us. If we'd lost, there probably would have been
even more questions about our dismal showing.
We ended up blaming our sucky performance on the long drive and the
cold air-conditioning in the hotel room, which we claimed gave us both
colds. Whether or not Brennan's dad bought that one, I had my doubts.
He knew very well that even with two double beds in the room, we slept
together cuddled up as we always did, and most likely wouldn't have
been too cold. But, he didn't question us further. Even so, it would be
a while before we would try drinking again.
That night, though, lying in bed, drunk off our twelve-year-old asses
and giggling non-stop for no good reason, I had a 'moment.' It came
upon me suddenly, with no warning, and I wasn't really sure what was
"I love you, Brennan," I blurted out in a brief moment of seriousness.
Suddenly, Brennan stopped giggling, too, and the room was dead silent
for what seemed like an eternity. In reality, it was probably only
about four or five seconds.
"I love you, too, Grady," he said, matter-of-factly.
We both continued to lie there, saying nothing. I didn't know why I
said that, or even what I meant by it. In fact, it was the first time I
could ever recall saying those words. It was quite out of character for
"You're drunk, man," Brennan giggled, breaking me out of my brief
moment of self-reflection.
"So what?" I retorted. "So are you!"
"Why yes, yes I am," he said, in a horrible, faux British accent.
That caused us both to crack up again, but after a few more minutes of
kicking each other under the sheets and slapping each other's asses,
the alcohol finally got the best of us and we passed out.
All we could talk about on the
ride back to Brennan's house
was our upcoming trip to Williamsport. The previous summer, Brennan and
I had sat and watched the entire Little League World Series
extravaganza on television, talking about how cool it would be if we
got to go the next year, be on television, meet kids from all over the
world, and eat, sleep, and breathe nothing but baseball for nearly two
The Little League organization would also be giving us all brand new
uniforms and equipment, which was going to be so awesome. Personally, I
wasn't as excited as Brennan about the television part of the whole
deal, but I was definitely looking forward to having a chance to meet
"The Bulldog," Orel Hershiser, a former Major League pitching star and
ESPN broadcaster. Maybe he'd even have a few pointers for me!
Our dream had finally come true, but the ride wasn't close to being
After winning the regionals, we didn't have too much time to
bask in our own glory, as we had to be in Pennsylvania by that
afternoon for orientation, preparations, and practice. Fortunately, it
didn't take too much
effort from Mr. Bellinger to convince my parents to let me go. I had my
sneaking suspicions that they were hoping that I would eventually
become a rich and famous Major League pitcher and be able to hook them
up for life. So, by Tuesday, Mr. Bellinger had already rented a tour
bus to drive the whole team to Williamsport, our bags
and we were ready to go, ready to represent the Midwest Region at the
Little League World Series.
We were about to have the best ten days of our lives.
Copyright 2007. All
Rights Reserved. No parts of this story may be copied, reproduced, in
print or in any other format, without express written consent from the
This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living or dead
are purely coincidental.
let me know what you think of the story! Send comments to LittleBuddhaTW@hotmail.com