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Youth Sports and The Magic in Performance

| April 22nd, 2019

‘Ole Sharky
By Tom Wilder Craig & Dr. K.C. Wilder

I am not going to lie. I have never really believed in magic. The truth is, baseball showed me that magic does exist. The story begins when my brother Jack and I are on vacation at my grand-parents home in Cape Cod.

On a Saturday, Jack and I wake up and visit our neighbor’s barn that was built in the 1850’s. Jack was searching through a pile of old sports equipment when he spotted a well-worn baseball glove. Jack asked, our neighbor, Joe “Slugger” McSweeney, “Can we take a closer look at that glove?” Slugger said, “That was my father’s glove.

My Dad gave the glove a nickname that should be imprinted on the inside.” I was excited to find the nickname inside the glove. It read, “The Shark.” Slugger read it out-loud, “The Shawk was the nick-name because my Dad and his glove were always ready to attack the ball.” I chuckled when I heard Slugger’s strong Boston accent. Slugger added, “No one has played with that glove since my Dad played with it in the Cape Cod League Championship game in 1972.”

Jack asked, “Can Tom and I borrow ‘ole Sharky for our Little League Championship?” Slugger said, “Absolutely! The ‘ole Shawk would love to play again. Just be careful, and don’t let ‘ole Shawky get wet! I repeat, do NOT let ‘ole Shawky get wet!” Jack and I heard our Mom calling, “Boys, it’s lunch-time, come on home.” We picked up ‘ole Sharky, went home and told our Mom all about the glove’s nickname and some of the history that we learned about the Cape Cod Baseball League.

After lunch, we brought ‘ole Sharky outside for catching practice. Sharky was really stiff so we called our Dad at work. Dad told us to go in his tool-box and that we could use his special glove oil. Jack and I found the glove oil and used just a little bit.

As we were finishing our work on the glove, our yellow lab Nicky showed up. Nicky is an awesome dog who loves to swim in the ocean when we visit our grandparents at the beach. Jack tried to shield the glove, but it was too late. Nicky had just come from an ocean swim and was shaking like crazy with water spraying off of him with every wiggle he made!

‘Ole Sharky was wet. What was going to happen? We were frantic. We dried the glove with towels, and even used a blow-dryer. The glove was not completely dry when we went to bed that night. Jack decided to keep it under his pillow overnight to dry it out! The next day was our Cotuit Kettleers Little League Championship game.

Luckily, the glove seemed dry and was no longer stiff, therefore I decided that I would use ‘ole Sharky in the outfield. It was a tight game. It was the top of the ninth inning, and we were ahead 2-1, bases were loaded and the Falmouth Commodores best hitter was at bat.

Full count, and the pitch comes over the plate, the hitter nails it. It looks like it is going clear over the fence for a game winning GRAND SLAM. I leap five feet in the air and catch the ball for the game winning out. We win the Little League Championships, and everyone runs over and they carry me in celebration off the field.

Jack said, “Tom that was incredible! How did you do it?” I looked at Jack and winked, “Sharky and I attacked the ball.” That’s how I learned that there is magic in baseball.

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