By Ivana Kottasová
Eli Kramer sits on the bench, chewing his gum. His mind is on the field. He squints through the fence against the sun and follows the ball with his eyes. Kramer’s team, the Red Legged Devils, are down by two runs.
They are batting. Two outs. Bases loaded.
He knows he will be batting soon. That is, if the game goes well. It’s the bottom of the last inning of the game. They can still win.
His father, David Kramer, is watching. As always, he sits right behind the dugout. He comes to every game. When he comes late or misses a game, his son is upset and mentions it when they talk.
Kramer wears number five. He sits with his feet firmly on the ground. His Nike turfs are tied tightly, just the way he likes it. He chews gum, a bottle of blue Gatorade in his hands. He can’t play a game without the blue Gatorade. Over the five years of his career, the blue drink has become his routine, just like the chewing gum and stretching before the game.
Sometimes, he blows a bubble while standing on a base. That, too, is now a routine.
He goes over the coach’s advices as he waits his turn. He knows exactly what to do: Look the pitcher straight in the eyes. Watch every move. When the ball is half way between him and the pitching mound, make a quick decision on what to do.
He chews his gum, waiting. Two balls, two strikes. He is quiet, unlike his teammates, who are up on their feet, cheering.
He wears the same red socks every game. They match his shirt with big number five on his back. The knee of his white baseball pants is brown from a fall during one of the early innings. He looks nervous. He chews his gum, watching the pitcher throw the ball.
Then strike three. Game is over. The Red Legged Devils have lost.
Kramer is upset. He doesn’t want to talk. He shakes hands with his opponents and goes out of the field through the players’ box.
He wants to go home. But he knows he will be back – next Sunday, when the next round of his league for players under the age of 11 is played in Prospect Park. Until then, he has other things to worry about.