When I was in high school, we were required to take one trimester’s worth of sport after school. Despite being athletically inclined, I didn’t enjoy sports. As I put it then, “I don’t mind running away from something or running towards something but I hate just running.” As a freshman, I signed up for field hockey. The next year, softball. One year, I tricked the system by signing up to be the tennis manager which meant I was on the ‘team’ but never had to pick up a racket because my hands were full of clipboards and schedules. Point is: I’m not a sports fan. The only time I follow soccer/football/anything else is when the World Cup/Super Bowls/Olympics are on. That said, I greatly enjoyed this book, ostensibly about baseball but really about so much more.
Henry could feel a quiet, electric idea slithering through the ballpark as Schwartzy strode to the plate and pawed at the chalk-swirled back line of the batter’s box with his size-fourteen spike. He was Westish’s all-time home-run leader, and he looked the part. The Amherst fans, except for Elizabeth Myszki, fell quiet. The tiny contingent of Westish parents stood and whistled and clapped. The other six thousand people slid a few inches forward in their seats, together producing a subtle shift in energy that was evident throughout the park. The Harpooners, except for Henry and Owen, leaned over the lip of the dugout, yelling mild profanities to distract the pitcher while inwardly they prayed, contorting their fingers and toes into whatever configurations they felt would produce the most luck. There was a lot of superstitious fidgeting and shifting—nobody wanted to move around too much, which was itself unlucky, but nobody wanted to get stuck in an unlucky pose.
Henry too, as he sat two steps behind his antsy teammates, inches from Owen’s elbow, tried to find a pose that would help. Deep down, he thought, we all believe we’re God. We secretly believe that the outcome of the game depends on us, even when we’re only watching—on the way we breathe in, the way we breathe out, the T-shirt we wear, whether we close our eyes as the pitch leaves the pitcher’s hand and heads toward Schwartz.