“Come on, Dad, just three more pitches,” pleaded Young Ray.
A hardball hitting a mitt is like music to a young boy’s ear. A father and son having a catch on the front lawn, under a setting sun, is the closest thing there is to perfection in this world.
“All right, three more pitches,” Young Ray’s father agreed, giving in to the young hurler.
Before Young Ray was about to deliver his last pitch, he stopped partway through his windup and asked, “Dad, was Roberto Clemente really the greatest player of all time?”
“He was the best player I ever saw,” said Young Ray’s father.
Suddenly a window opened from a second-story bedroom. “Andy, don’t forget, you still have to pack your bag for tomorrow’s trip,” Patti reminded him.
“Just one more pitch, Mom,” said Young Ray. Young Ray then reached back and delivered his last pitch. As the ball came in, it bounced in front of Andy and skipped off of his mitt, rolling several feet away.
“Error on the catcher!” yelled Young Ray.
“Wild pitch!” Andy yelled back.
Whether it be an error or wild pitch, Buddy as always, was right there to retrieve the ball. The foxhound, with the ball in his mouth, would then dash right back to Young Ray and drop the ball in his mitt.
“I know, I know, that one didn’t count,” said Andy, abiding by his son’s rule that the last pitch had to be a strike.
Then the young hurler pounded the ball into his mitt as he stared down his nose at the catcher. As Young Ray went into his windup, Andy’s mind drifted far away and back over the years. He had a vision, a vision of a little boy not much younger than his own son, running toward a rolling ball with great determination, then with all his might striking it with his foot. An instant later the baseball exploded into Andy’s mitt.
“Dad?” said Ray, noticing that his father appeared to be in a trance.
“Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot. Last pitch. Come on now, hum it in there!” Andy urged his son.
“But, Dad!” said Ray, pointing to his father’s mitt. “I already threw it!”
Andy looked curiously at his son, then in his mitt. Sure enough, there it was. Thank goodness he hit the mitt, Andy thought.
“Dad, are you all right?” asked the concerned young hurler.
“Yeah, I, ah…I’m just fine, Son,” said Andy, rather unconvincingly. Then he added, “It’s time to head inside, Ray. I’ll be along in just a minute.”
Andy remained there, kneeling in the cool grass, considering his home, his family, his…life? He stared off into the distance as the setting sun began to disappear. Then he whispered the words, “Little Joe.”
Congratulations to a first time author. I found this book well worth the purchase. In Andy, the author created a strong & endearing character. It is not the usual coming of age story, but rather somewhat of a spiritual odyssey. The author drew me in with heartwarming and sometimes sad tales of life at an orphanage and then, as a result of a tragic occurrence, proceeded to take me on an extraordinary adventure as seen through the eyes of a 15 year old boy. As the protagonist proceeds on his remarkable journey, the reader becomes aware how all of us can impact the lives of others. The author also succeeded in bringing the story to a compelling crescendo and climax.
Review by Rose Richardson