In baseball, it’s helpful for the first person up – the leadoff hitter – to get on. Everyone likes a good start.

The Newtown Bluebirds were winless after their first five Little League games. They were also scoreless. It had been inning after inning without a run, never mind a decent hit. The bases were awfully lonely, as Coach Fromberg put it to the team. Practice, practice, and more practice was needed. The Coach delegated batting practice to his assistant, Stan Cranley. After 45 minutes, Stan returned.

“So, how’d it go, Stan? How was the batting practice?”
“I guess you could call it that.”
“Not so good, huh?”
“I guess you could say that, although I was impressed by that Finkel kid.”
“You mean, Irwin?”
“Right. Irwin Finkel.”
“Finkel? He can’t throw. And he can’t hit at all. That’s why we haven’t played him.”
“I know he’s been sitting on the bench. But in practice, he was hit four times by the pitch.”
“Four times?”
“He can’t hit. But he can’t get out of the way of a pitch either. Four times in a row, I tell you.”
“Finkel, huh? Stan, we’ve got our leadoff hitter from now on. Let Irwin know. And make sure you have him crowd the plate…”

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