Fantasticoe Fall 2004

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Confidence Cap

Jeff Weisenborn 


      Something hit the back of his head.

      "Ow!" Ken reached up and rubbed his skull, turning around to glare at his best friend. " That wasn't funny."

      Tray scooped up the baseball glove where it laid on the cement, making a face.

      "Well, you were supposed to wait for me."

      "Fine, fine." They stepped into symmetry, their footsteps scraping the cement sidewalk in unison. "You take forever though."

      "Whatever. What's got you into such a bad mood?"

      Ken kicked a loose piece of rubble glumly. "I suck this year."

      Tray said, "Ken it will come around, just relax a little bit and have some fun."

      The tall slender body of Tray with his brown shaggy hair walked with his best friend Ken who was darker skinned and was shorter than the average guy, but was very muscular and strong.

      "So anyways Tray do you think we will be good this year?" Ken asked.

           " I really can't believe that we are struggling this year because we had so high of expectations," Tray replied.

           "Ya I know what you are talking about," said Ken.

          As the boys were walking they entered the ally a few blocks behind their houses in which they have lived by each other since they were little kids. They started to walk through the ally and Tray stopped as he saw a strange baseball cap.  He went over to the cap and picked it up.  He looked at it and noticed its strange colors.  It was a neon orange color with a black bill.  It had the letter C in black with white trim for a logo in the center of the hat. Tray dusted the hat off because it looked a little old and raggedy.  Tray decided to put the hat on, and it fit perfectly.
Ken quickly said, "Tray don't put that hat on you don't know who has been wearing it."

       Tray said, " don't worry about it I like this hat."

      "Well lets get going home then," said Ken.

      "You eating supper with us tonight?" Were having homemade pizza and breadsticks.

      Ken got on his cell phone right away and called his mom to tell him he would be home after he ate.

    When the boys walked into Tray's house Ken took a deep breath through his nose. He always liked the smell of Tray's house, his mom always kept the house clean. Ken began thinking that Tray's house always had that warm welcome home feeling to him. He started looking around like he usually does and noticed the huge clean sofas. Buddy, Trays pet bulldog was lying on the floor next to the sofa. There was a nice brick fireplace in the corner of the room with a family picture hanging over it. As Ken finally realized he was spacing off he headed into the kitchen and said hi to Pam, Tray's mom, as they sat down for dinner. Tray, Pam, and Ken ate some pizza because the rest of the family was gone for the night. After supper Ken said thanks and told Tray he would see him tomorrow at practice. He stopped when he got to the door and took a deep breath again before he walked out into the cool summer night.

     "What's up buddy," said Tray.

    "Not to much just a little sleepy today," said Ken sluggishly.

    "Well hey practice hard so we can keep getting better, said Tray." I know what's going to help me today; it's going to be that lucky hat that I found yesterday. Tray put on the hat under his helmet as he left the dugout and headed for the plate. He felt the hot late afternoon breeze coming in from second base, drying his sun-baked lips. He looked out toward Coach James, who was pitching for batting practice, and pulled the brim of his new cap down to block the sun. He wanted to impress Coach, but he was shy about looking him in the eye. He dug out some dirt to get set properly and squinted, lifting his favorite bat high above his right shoulder.

    He started to take batting practice and felt a little different than normal.  He started seeing the ball very well and began putting very good swings on the ball. Crack, crack, crack, that was the sound of the ball jumping off the bat of Tray.  He was hitting balls out to center field and even hit a few out of the park.  Tray wasn't a homerun hitter and he knew it, but he did feel good today. After everyone on the team had hit once they started back through the lineup.  When Tray was up again he didn't wear the hat underneath his helmet.  He got up to the plate and started swinging. There was an occasional whiff and a few foul balls, but definitely no cracks. After his turn was done he walked back to the dugout thinking to him self. He thought about it hard, because he didn't know how he could do so good one time and terrible the next. Tray just came to the conclusion that sometimes in baseball you are going to struggle, and maybe that is what happened this time.

    As Tray was ready to sprint back to his defensive position Coach James yelled al right that's enough for today boys. So the team brought it in and picked up all the equipment.

          As Ken and Tray were walking home after practice that day Ken asked Tray what was up with him at practice.

          With a confused look Tray said, " What do you mean?"

          "You know what I mean you were killing balls the first time around, and then struggled the next time around, said Ken.

          Tray spoke softly and said, "Well I don't know I guess it did seem a little weird, but I don't know what is going on."  I was thinking about it too and wondered what was going on. The only thing that I could come up with was that I did wear that old cap I found yesterday under my helmet the first time I batted. The second time I didn't wear it.

          "Really, well maybe it's the cap then," said Ken.

    "Well I don't know, how about you try it out tomorrow," said Tray. As he said this Tray handed the cap to Ken. Well hey I have to go help my dad with some yard work tonight said Tray, so I will just talk to you tomorrow at practice. "See you tomorrow," said Ken, as he walked down the street to the end of the block where his house is.

          The next day at practice Ken tried on the cap while he was pitching and he noticed that he started to throw better. He looked into the catcher for the sign and saw that he had two fingers down. That meant he was supposed to throw a curveball. Ken took his windup and threw the ball in stride. As the ball soared through the air it suddenly dropped as if it fell off a table. The catcher caught it and said waaahooo! Where did that come from Ken? That was one of the best curveballs I have ever seen. Ken kept on throwing pitch after pitch, sometimes a fastball and sometimes a curve. Almost every time he threw the pitch exactly like he always wanted to. He threw another one of those nasty curveballs, and he heard Coach James yell al right that's enough for today boys. They brought it in again and after they picked up the equipment the boys were walking home again.

    Ken told Tray after practice that he was throwing in the bullpen and he thinks the hat really did work. "Well that's awesome I guess I will have to try it out tomorrow in the game against East High, said Tray excitedly."

    "Let's kick their ass," said Ken. We need a big win against a ranked team. That would give us so much confidence.

    "Yeah your right," said Tray as he gave his best friend a fist pound. The two boys headed off to each of their houses and said see you tomorrow and lets win!

    The big game:

    Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. As Tray was listening to the national anthem his palms were sweaty inside his batting gloves. He was getting nervous. Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave. Tray knew it was now or never for the season. This could turn everything around. Or the land of the free, and the home of the brave. Ken came over and gave Tray a fist pound and said hey buddy how about you start it off for us and get things going from the start.
         It came time for the big game and Tray was the leadoff man in the game.  He dug some dirt out of the batters box and he spit on his batting gloves.  He stepped back out of the box and readjusted his helmet.  He looked at coach for the signs and got back in the box.  He swung and missed the first pitch. He went back through his routine and did the same for the second pitch.  The third pitch was outside and he let it go for a ball.  He stared at the pitcher down one and two in the count looking for an off speed pitch. The pitcher looked in for the sign and threw the ball. Tray saw a good pitch but swung and missed for strike three.  He took off his helmet and went back to the dugout.

    Ken took the mound in the bottom half of the inning and started to throw some descent pitches but it was nothing like what he was throwing in the bullpen yesterday. He ended up getting out of the inning with nobody scoring because the center fielder made a diving catch for out number three.

      Neither team scored the first time they went through there batters. Tray came up to lead off the fourth inning. Before he went up to the plate he got out his special hat and wore it under his helmet. He got up out of the dugout and ran up to the plate.  He did his normal routine and then got the first pitch.  It was a fastball right down the middle.  Tray jumped all over it. He took off from the batters box as he saw the ball flying into the right center gap. He was rounding first and half way to second when he looked at coach James who was coaching third base. Coach was waving his arms telling tray to go to third. As he rounded second he was running as fast as he ever had and coach was yelling for him to slide into third. He slid face first just before the ball got to third and the umpire yelled safe. He got up from sliding into third and yelled and got his teammates all excited. Tray scored on the very next at bad when he friend Jase hit a fly ball to center field. He tagged up from third when the center fielder caught the ball, and crossed home plate easily before the ball got to home. As he ran back to the dugout his teammates were all giving him first pounds and telling him good job.

    The next few innings Ken struggled on the mound a little bit and he wondered it that cap really did matter. He couldn't wear it though because he had to wear the team hat just like everyone else when he was pitching or on defense. Ken thought about what he did differently when he was pitching yesterday, and started to realize he just needed some confidence. Still Ken didn't pitch his best game, but good enough to give his team a chance to win. They were down by one run going into the their last at bat.

          In the last inning of the game Tray came up to bat with his team was down by a run with bases loaded and two outs.  He decided to wear the cap again under his helmet. Once again he ran out of the dugout and up to the plate. He did his normal routine and stepped out of the box.  His coach called time and went down to talk to Tray.

          He said confidently, "come on Tray you can do this and we need you, just get your pitch."

    As Tray was walking back he said to himself, I'm going to get a hit off this guy. I'm better than him.

    Tray walked back to the batters box did his routine and got ready for the pitch. His palms were sweating again, and so was his forehead. He felt the sweat dripping down and some got in his eye. He called time, and the umpire stood up and yelled time. Tray backed out of the box and did his normal routine again. He got back into the box and told himself once again that he was going to get a hit. Everyone thing seemed as if it was in slow motion. He glared at the pitch as he swung his bad back and forth. As the pitcher started to windup for the pitch Tray put his bat back in position to swing. Tray saw the pitch come out of the pitchers hand and his eyes lit up.  It was another first pitch fastball, and as the ball was coming in it looked as if it almost stopped to Tray. He swung hard and made solid contact, crack! He ran out of the batters box as he saw the ball go whizzing past the pitchers head. The ball was rolling hard and fast into center field.  The tying run was in and the winning run was rounding third and going home. Tray was on his way to second when he stopped to watch the play at home plate. Peter his friend who was a senior on the team slid in right as the ball was reaching home. It was a close play almost to close to call. Tray couldn't wait any longer as he closed his eyes. He heard the umpire yell safe and the team stormed the field.

    Tray was the hero and it was a great feeling. Ken came up and gave him a fist pound and then lifted him up by his legs. Tray made a first and raised it high in the air. He looked at his mom and smiled. It was a great feeling.

          After the game was over and everything settled down, Tray and Ken were the only two left in the parking lot. The boys were walking to their cars and Trays bag with his lucky was still open about half way. As Tray was walking and talking to Ken the hat fell out because Tray had his bag slightly tipped as he was walking. The two boys were still so excited about the game that they didn't even notice the hat fell out. The boys got in their cars and drove home. That night it was really windy and the hat blew away.

      That night Ken called Tray up and told him good game. They talked about how fun the game was, and how big of a win it was. Tray said, "I think this game can help us get to state."

      Ken said, "Ya we will all have so much more confidence right now and that's about all we need. "We just have to make sure we don't get cocky."

      "Ya I know what you mean," said Tray.

      The next day at practice Tray was a little tired, and he sluggishly came to practice. He opened up his bag and he noticed the hat was gone from his bag. He put on his team hat and went out to begin warming up. He didn't really think about the cap too much and as he began batting practice he felt just as good as ever. He started hitting hard line drives and was excited about it. He had realized he didn't need that cap to help him play good, he just needed the confidence it gave him. After a short and quick practice Coach James called the boys in again and told them they played a great game last night and to keep it up.

      As the two boys walked home from practice Tray told Ken that he realized what was going on with that dirty old hat.

      Ken said, "What do you mean?"

      "Well me and you both thought that cap was making us play better, but really all it did was give us the confidence we need to play better."

      "Maybe you are right," said Ken. I did have a lot of confidence when I wore that cap and if I have it all the time I know I can pitch great.

      "Yeah so you know what we don't even need that old cap, but I think it did help us out in the long run," said Tray. All we need is to have confidence in ourselves and we will do just fine.

      The boys played to go to state that next week. They played hard and played well, but got beat by a better team than them. They were disappointed of course but learned a lot this season. They know they have become better players, and know that next year will be totally different. They did learn that all they need in the future is confidence, and they could get by in life and in baseball.

      As the two boys went out downtown with the rest of the team that night it was a cold and windy night. They were walking up to the local pizza joint and the hat blew behind them across the street. The boys had no idea the hat was there and they thought it was gone forever. Across the street from the pizza place there were some kids playing basketball in the park with the lights on. Kyle and some of his friends were playing and he saw the hat blowing across the street. Kyle was going to be a freshman in high school and has a good chance of playing varsity his freshman year. He would have to get a little better if he wanted to play. He put the hat on and it fit perfectly. He said lets go fellas, lets play a little ball. Immediately Kyle started feeling different and playing even better than normal.

I would like to thank some people.  I would like to thank my fellow classmates for the comments they gave me to make my stories better.  Especially Chris Kehe because if we both weren't so competitive our stories would've been horrible.  We both wanted to have a better story than the other.  I would like to thank Terry Heller my instructor for the good comments he gave me.  A lot of description came from him.  He also helped with the story line.  I found out that writing takes a lot of time, and it can be very fun. When I was making my revisions I had a lot of fun.  I got into the story and really couldn't quite working on it until I liked what I had.  From the beginning of the semester to the end, I changed so much as a writer, but my writings still show what kind of person I am.