The Boy Who Threw Strikes – Making Friends and Winning Prizes
Dougie Walsh was becoming a local folk hero of sorts. His recent heroics in nabbing or striking down a potential purse snatcher had garnered him a “Local Hero” medal from the Mayor. Friends and even strangers wanted to see how good Dougie’s aim was in other arenas, so they set out to discover just that. In the summer of 2010, Dougie Walsh was in high demand and did not disappoint.
At the Little League’s end of the year picnic, Dougie was invited to “dunk” Coach Wilson, a hardass to many in the league (including parents) into the dunk tank. Strike after strike, Dougie dunked Coached Wilson until Wilson finally pleaded to get out of the dunk tank. Fans, fellow teammates, and excitable parents cheered and screamed “Hey” and “Oohh Yeah!”
Dougie escorted Amanda to the State Fair. Amanda, not really interested in Dougie other than his celebrity status, asked Dougie to win her a stuffed elephant at the sharp shooter booth. Looking to impress his cute neighbor once again, Dougie paid the $2 fee for 5 baseballs and knocked down all of the bowling pins in succession. For his work, Amanda received two elephants and gave Dougie a kiss on the cheek.
In his backyard, Dougie had tied an old truck tire to a tree branch. The tire hung just about chest high for the average hitter Dougie faced in Juniors League. Dougie would draw the tire back and let it swing freely. Then, Dougie would run over to a spot about 60 feet away, where a bucket of baseballs was waiting. Then, he would go into his windup and throw baseballs through the tire. One after the other. A local photographer captured Dougie and his tire swinging trick on camera and posted it on his paper’s website. With permission from Dougie’s parents, fans would come watch Dougie and his expert accuracy in tossing baseball after baseball through that swinging tire.
Dougie was walking by the library on his way home one afternoon when a baseball rolled up to his shoe. “Hey, up here,” yelled a man from the second floor of the library. “Toss it up here Dougie,” the man yelled again. Dougie put his backpack on the sidewalk and grabbed the baseball. He went into his windup and threw the ball into the window and into the man’s glove. Soon, another baseball appeared. “Throw it to me,” said a different man from a different window. Once again, Dougie reached down and grabbed the baseball and hurled it into the window. This went on for almost an hour, when a crowd began to form on the street and cheers rang out every time Dougie would hit his target inside the library. Local cops, initially part of the fan base, finally came to their civic duty senses and broke up the crowd and sideshow.
Amanda invited Dougie to join her and a few friends at the Town Beach. It was a busy day at the beach with tons of swimmers, sunbathers, and activity out on the water. Boats, jet skies, and folks having a blast on a hot summer afternoon. Dougie was standing on the water’s edge debating whether or not to go into the water when a boy came up to him and tugged on his swim shorts. “Hey Dougie, do you think you could throw this ball to my dad and uncle?” Dougie looked down at the boy and said “sure, where are they?” The boy pointed out to a boat about 100 feet off the water’s edge, speeding parallel to the shore. The boy’s dad and uncle raised their hands and the boy and Dougie waved back. “I’ll give it a try,” said Dougie to the boy. The boy turned and gave his Mom the thumbs up, to which the Mom stood up and waved her towel as some sort of signal meaning “yes.” Dougie took the baseball, went into his windup and hurled it right into the boater’s hand. The crowd at the beach cheered.
Amanda, without Dougie’s prior approval, signed Dougie up for the Town’s Annual Talent Show. Dougie’s act would be throwing baseballs at Amanda’s head, well at objects on top of her head. Apples, books, anything that could stand upright. Dougie reluctantly accepted the invite to the talent show and performed his “act” to a ruckus crowd. Apples fell, books fell, Dougie was a can’t miss and Amanda soaked up all the applause and cheers as if she were the star. After the show, Amanda was asked out by an older boy in the audience and accepted. Dougie walked home alone very hurt.
The next morning Dougie walked into his barn and took a baseball and hurled it as hard as he could at the barn’s rafters. Unbeknownst to Dougie, there was a gigantic nest situated right where Dougie threw the baseball. Hundreds, many close to a thousand bees or hornets or wasps came out of this muddy structure. Dougie was frozen for a moment and didn’t realize the danger he was in. A swarm of angry bees or hornets or wasps shot down and stung him on the right hand, his throwing hand, his golden hand, his pitching hand. Dougie ran out of the barn as the angry swarm dispersed into the air and woods behind Dougie’s house. Dougie had been stung several times and his mother treated his stings. Dougie’s hand was really swollen and he placed it in an ice bath to try and reduce the swelling.
A few days later after school, Dougie went to his local baseball park and threw some baseballs off the mound. His hand was still sore from the bee or hornet or wasp stings and he couldn’t quite grip the baseball as he had done so for years. His accuracy was near zero as he missed target after target. After about 10 baseball pitches, he picked up his bucket of baseballs and headed home. As he was walking off the field, he looked around to make sure no one was watching. Dougie did not want anyone to know of his injury and feared that his recent fame would take a hit if local folks new he couldn’t perform his accuracy tricks.
That following Saturday, with a good size crowd on hand to see Dougie Walsh, the injury on Dougie’s hand reared its ugly head. From the first batter until the 12th batter in the lineup, Dougie struggled mightily. Ball after ball flew into the dirt, over the batter’s head, in the air to the backstop. Dougie’s stings were in the palm of his hand and on his thumb primarily, so he just couldn’t get a good grip. 12 batters in, none retired, Dougie’s Coach Wilson came out and took the baseball. Dougie was crushed, the crowd was stunned, and the fate of the boy who threw strikes was in jeopardy.
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