Toby Forman

Fred The Athlete

It was a nice Wednesday morning.  Spring was just starting and the leaves were starting to grow again.  The smell of warmth brought overwhelming energy and joy to everybody, especially to Fred.  Fred was a 3rd grader at Chipnuts Elementary School.  He was medium sized for kids in his grade but he stood taller than any of them.  He always felt noble, especially in the springtime, for springtime was when the kickball season began.  Everybody knew that Fred was the most athletic kid in his grade.  Fred knew it too, and he liked to show it.  Every time he got up to kick the ball every single person in the outfield would take ten steps back.  He was always the first pick by the captains of the teams.  As Fred walked to the bus stop after having a bowl of cereal, he thought about how he was going to impress everybody with his kicking.  He pictured the pitcher rolling the ball at top-notch speed (they roll it faster for the better players). He pictured himself kicking the ball so hard that he would break the ball and everybody would think he’s the best. The bus came and he was driven to school.

The first half of school was a bore for Fred.  All he could think about was kicking that grand slam and everybody rejoicing for him.  He would draw doodles on his desk of him kicking and breaking the ball.  Ms. Tramapoly would catch him doing this daily. Every time he was told to stop, but it was as if he couldn’t hear anything.  Eventually, Ms. Tramapoly gave up on Fred as a student until after recess.  The bell rang and it was recess; everybody zoomed outside.

Earlier that day on the bus ride to school Fred sat next to Harry, who had been a captain of every kickball team every day since kindergarten.  Fred liked Harry because Harry constantly reminded him of how amazing he was.  Harry told Fred about his secret strategy for today and a special lineup that no one else would think of.  The plan involved three other players and Fred, who would score a grand slam.  The other captain besides Harry was Philip, a competent captain who knew how to pick his players.  When the teams were picked, Harry had acquired his four players.          

Harry’s team started in the outfield.  Harry was pitching for his team.  The first kicker for Philip’s team got out and the second made it to first base.  Fred was playing shortstop.  Merrill was up next and she was good, but Fred knew that he was smarter and better.  Merrill always tended to hit the ball like a bullet about three feet off the ground in between the short stop and second base.  In preparation he moved to the left.  Harry gave the pitch, which was relatively fast.    He took a major dive to the left as Merrill kicked the ball.  He caught the ball and before hitting the ground he threw the ball at the runner, hitting him directly in the chest. Everybody cheered as the teams switched sides.  Fred was on top of the world right now.

The first player up for Harry’s team was Sandy who could always get on base but wasn’t very noticeable in terms of her playing skills.  With no surprise she ended up on first.  The two players after her, Kathy and Arnold, made it to a base, which made the bases loaded, and Fred was up now.  This was Harry’s plan.  Fred walked up graciously and he took a few steps away from the plate.  The entire outfield moved ten steps back.  The pitcher released the fastest pitch he could.  As the ball released from the hand of the pitcher, Fred’s feet began to move.  When the ball came near, his leg shot way back pushing a breath of wind behind.  The gun was fired; his leg went flying through the ball.  The ball went sky high way into the outfield towards center field.  He began to run; the entire team began to run. As he watched the ball, he raised his hands into the air signifying the grand slam.  Suddenly, everything stopped.  The ball seemed to start falling straight down, and it was right under an opposing outfielder.  The outfielder had caught the ball and the players on Fred’s team ran back to their previous bases.  Everybody was silent. This had never happened before. The person who caught the ball stood there, staring at the ball.  Suddenly, Philip started cheering, followed by his team.  Completely shocked, Fred walked over to the bench. People showed him sympathy and he absolutely hated it.  He felt as though he were being treated like the worst player on the team as he sat on the bench.  Lily was up next.  All he could think about was how the pitcher had given him a bad pitch. As time passed, his grudge with pitcher worsened.  Lily got her pitch. She kicked it sky high into the outfield. Everybody but Fred was standing on their feet as it went flying to the forest for a grand slam. Everybody rejoiced.  He couldn’t help but think that had he got that pitch he’d be running around that field right now.

On the next pitch, Fred, not fully aware of what he was doing, ran in front of the kicker and kicked it as hard he could, right at the pitcher’s head.  The ball hit the pitcher and bounced with such force that it hit the branch of a tree and exploded.  The ball broke.  Everybody was stunned and Fred could see the rising anger of every player on the field. He ran away with tears in his eyes.

The pitcher had a broken nose.  There were no more school kickballs so there was no kickball for a while. The next time he played kickball, he was picked last.


Copyright 2002-2006 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2006 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.