Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A stealing home story

A reporter asked Jacoby Ellsbury late Sunday night if he could remember the last time he stole home.

"When I was younger," he said. "I'd never stolen home in a college game or the minor leagues or, obviously, professional baseball. That's the first time."

The reporter followed up: Was it 90 feet?

"It was probably 60 feet," he said.

That's when it hit me: Jacoby Ellsbury and I have something in common. I, too, have stolen home on a 60-foot baseball diamond. He just happened to do his the conventional way.

I did not.

It was 1994 in Puyallup, Wash., the hometown of one Jon Lester. (Lester, for what it's worth, may have been playing in this same Little League at the same time; I haven't yet asked him about it.) I was 10 years old. The SportCo. Braves were playing the Angels on a field called Rodeo Field. It was somewhere in the middle innings; I singled with two outs and went to third when the next hitter doubled. There were runners on second and third and two outs.

The next hitter worked the count full. I remember that distinctly. It was one of those big spots where the next pitch was going to be really important, and I was ready to run like heck no matter what happens. I had my back foot on the base -- we weren't allowed to lead yet and could only steal after the pitch had crossed the plate -- and was ready to go.

The pitch came in low. Ball four.

I still have never figured out why I decided to trot home. I knew there was a runner on second; somehow, in my mind, the hitter had already walked and thus the bases were loaded, and that meant the walk I'd just witnessed had forced me home. I strolled home, never jogging faster than you'd expect anyone to jog in that situation, and stepped on home plate. The catcher sat behind the plate -- the ball in his glove the whole time -- and never moved.

Only then did I turn around and discover that no one had advanced to third base behind me. The bases hadn't been loaded. I'd stolen home.

It'd be tough to find a more exciting steal of home than the one Jacoby Ellsbury executed against the Yankees on Sunday night.

But it'd be tough to find a slower steal of home than mine.

1 comment:

floydiansea said...

And you're both of American Indian descent, too!

Oh, wait ... Scotch Irish, right?

Well, blows that theory.