Andy longs for someone from his family to watch his games.

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Sometimes I think I was born into the wrong family.“Couldn’t you please change your shift at work so you could come watch me?” I begged Mom. “It’s the first playoff game, and Coach Rodgers said I’d be the catcher for this one.”

Mom sighed. “I’m sorry, Andy. I’d really like to watch you, but I can’t change my shift again. I already changed twice when Byron had the flu.”

Byron is fourteen, two years older than I am, but he and I are completely different in our likes and dislikes. He takes ballet, piano, and singing lessons. He even likes classical music and opera. But to me, nothing’s more important than sports!

“Plee-eea-se,” I begged again. “You haven’t watched a single game this season. Neither has Dad.”

My father is a long-distance trucker and is away for weeks at a time. Like Mom and Byron, he isn’t interested in most sports, but if he’s home when I play, I can usually talk him into watching me. But this summer, it hadn’t worked out at all.

Sometimes I think I was born into the wrong family. “Maybe I was switched at birth,” I joke. But it really isn’t funny being the only one in the family who’s interested in sports.

It doesn’t stop me from playing, though. Last year I was on the school teams for soccer, hockey, and tennis. In the summer I filled in the gaps with baseball and swimming. Actually, sports are my life!

Byron had overheard my conversation with Mom. He came into my room later and said, “You might as well get used to it. Mom doesn’t make it to my activities either, and she actually likes ballet and music. I’ve given up asking her. I just write the dates on the calendar so she knows where I am. Why don’t you write in yours, too?”

I shrugged, but I took his advice and marked down all my games. Not that it did any good!I marked down all my games.

Our first playoff game was a close one, and I was the catcher. We finally won it, 10-9, and I felt great. The second game was totally different—we lost, 8-2. That time I played in the field and made a couple of good catches, but I struck out twice at bat.

The series was the best of three, with the third game on Friday. I wrote it on the calendar in red ink: ANDY vs. KELVIN RAIDERS. TIE BREAKER! SEE ANDY AS CATCHER!

Mom grinned but shook her head. “Sorry, Andy. I’m still on evenings.”

“When will Dad be home?”

“He’s due Sunday.”

“Sunday’s too late,” I said.

Friday night was perfect for baseball, warm with just enough breeze to keep mosquitoes away. “This is the big one,” Coach Rodgers said to us. “Play your best, but have fun.”

I grinned, but I wasn’t sure about the fun part. My stomach was jiggling up a storm.

We batted first. Our two lead-off batters struck out, but then my buddy Gary, who was pitching this game, hit a double. “Runner on second. Hit him home,” the coach said as I took my turn.

I managed a short drive to right, and luckily the fielder muffed it. Gary slid into home. I reached second, but our next batter hit a pop fly straight to first base for the third out.

That run stood for five innings until the Raiders scored a pair in the fifth. Since our games were only seven innings, we were in a tough spot, but in the top of the seventh we made two more runs.

That put us ahead by one, but the Raiders batted last. The coach gathered us in the dugout. “We’ve got to hold them,” he told us.

The first Raider batter struck out, and the second hit a fly into Gary’s glove, but the third made a line drive to left and reached third on an overthrow. My stomach started to jiggle again.

Sweat trickled down inside my mask as I crouched behind the batter. Gary put across one strike, but the next two pitches were balls. On the fourth throw, the batter swung and partially connected, sending the ball straight up into the air about twenty feet.

“It’s yours, Andy!” Gary yelled.

I leaped forward, flinging off my mask to clear my vision, and made the catch. The game was over.

“Way to go, Andy!” called a voice from the stands. My mouth dropped open. There stood Byron, clapping enthusiastically with the crowd.

How long had he been there? I knew he didn’t like baseball. I didn’t think he’d recognize a strike if it hit him between the eyes."Way to go, Andy!"

At that moment the rest of the team descended on me, pounding my back, shouting, and cheering. When I was finally ready to leave, Byron was waiting. “Good game!” he said, smiling.

“How long were you watching?”

“The whole time. Didn’t you see me?”

“I never bother looking,” I said. “There’s never anybody there.” I paused. “Thanks for coming.”

“That’s OK,” he said. “When does your soccer season start, just in case?”

I told him as we walked home together. I decided to keep putting my games on the calendar.

I’ll have to check the calendar, too. I’m pretty certain Byron has a piano recital next week. I think I’ll go watch him.