Tuesday is park day at Atlas. We do a little bit of school inside and then we break out into the world. We march through the streets of Moscow with sweater vests and baseball bats. We fear no biker cop. We wear Mariner hats because we’ll wear no other. We grip our gloves and scuff the baseballs readying for the field. And as we cross the railroad tracks the boys take off in a full tilt run. They know the liturgy. They love our service of baseball. First we warm up. A sprint to the centerfield fence: remind yourself how far away the fence is. Back on the infield we gasp for air and blindly pick up gloves, pointing to one another, hoping to find a throwing partner. We throw at each other. We aim our shots at our opponent’s head and chest. Sometimes we miss. Then the guys take the field, and I hit the ball at them. I rotate them. I hit the ball again. They’re not very good at grounders. One of them fears the ball like it was a bee. He only swats and swerves. Others know what baseball looks like. They’ve seen the pros. They look like pros in their sunglasses and hats, as they bobble grounders and overthrow first base. But they work hard. Their hearts are in the game. I’ll hit it to them again and again. And they’ll want another and then another. We might divide into teams and scrimmage or I might select a few to run the bases and add a little fun to the infield drilling. Sometimes they turn amazing double plays. 6-4-3 in their sleep, and a grounder goes right between their legs. I love it.
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