Inning 10 ★ Truce With a Fine Print

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A bat went flying off of Kwentin's hands and narrowly missed Jimmy's head. The scare was such that they both burst into screams and tears. I reacted only when it was bad enough that they almost started using their fists. I grabbed each of their heads and pulled them apart until they calmed down, barking at the other kids to keep practicing.

When their fight got reduced to sobs, I crouched down to their level and asked them what the fuck had happened. Leaving out the f-bomb had been one of the most difficult things I'd done.

"He tried to kill me!" Jimmy screamed.

"I did not!"

"Okay you guys, calm down." I said this with such force behind it that they probably thought I was the one who wanted to kill them. And at that second I kinda did. "Kwentin, did you throw that bat on purpose?"

His answer stalled. I shot him a look. His dark skin deepened in color as he looked down. "He said I can't catch because I have butter hands."

I bit my lips. Sometimes he did, to be honest. "That was not a good enough reason to try to behead your team mate."

"I know, I know!" he looked up at me, pleading. "And I didn't mean to, it's just that the bat literally slipped from my hands."

"Butter hands, I tell you," Jimmy said. He shut up when I zeroed in on him.

"Do you really think that's a constructive criticism that you can help your team mate to improve with?"

He pouted. "But it's true..."

"To you, it might be. To him it's hurtful and doesn't help his sweaty palms problem."

"My mom has the same, it's why she and my dad don't hold hands much."

We both looked at him with shared horror. Even petulant little Jimmy, ace complex and all, could tell that that was pretty sad.

"I'm sorry," he told the other boy.

"Me too. I really didn't mean to hurt you."

"And you didn't," I told him. "But you need to be more careful. And Jimmy, you need to improve your attitude. Hurting your friends won't make you a better player or person."

He was on the verge of tears again, so I left it at that and told them both to keep playing. I used the word playing deliberately, even though today was a training day. I wanted them to remember that it was supposed to be fun and not a cut throat competition of egos. Baseball players were sensitive even from tender ages, I thought with an eye roll.

"You handled that pretty well."

I turned around to see my dad approach.

"Dad! What are you doing here?"

He stopped next to me, folding his arms and looking ahead at the haphazard group of under 10 year old boys. I cursed inwardly; he'd seen the whole episode no doubt, and it had only happened because I'd been deep in my thoughts.

"It's been a while since I last saw the pee wees," he said. He offered me a small smile that I caught like a truce, so I returned it. "You've done a pretty good job with them."

"You think?"

He nodded and flicked my pink cap. "Oh yes, you used to fight longer and harder than those two when you were your age, like the Tasmanian Devil that you were. They respect you."

I laughed at the backhanded compliment. "Well, at least you said were and not are."

Dad sighed as if the weight of the world were on his shoulders. "That's a good point, maybe I should change it to present."

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