by Kate Rock
The evening of Tuesday, July 11, 2006 in Bay View, Wisconsin at the now infamous Lewis Field played host to the much anticipated baseball game, where the two Rock boys would play a game of baseball against each other.
My 9 year old son, Kiefer Rock, catcher, first basemen and pitcher for the 9/10 year old Nationals team, and also -- because of a player shortage -- center fielder for the 11/12 year old Padres team, has become a very productive hitter. My youngest son, Keaton Rock, 7 years old, pitcher, catcher, and third baseman for the 7/8 year old Bats, and newly acquired right fielder for the 9/10 year old Marlins, is also hitting the ball like a pro. Keaton has a solo home run this season with the Bats.
A couple of weeks ago, I learned that the Marlins needed a ball player. Gus, who is Keaton’s coach on the Bats, and the manager of the entire Bay View Area Redcats baseball program thought that Keaton would be ready to play with the older ball players in the 9/10 division. Gus asked what I thought about Keaton helping out the Marlins. I was concerned, but agreed with Gus that Keaton was a good ball player with a swift swing. Not to mention a great throwing arm. Afterwards, I joked with the boys that they may soon be playing against each other. The stage is set…
I worried all day long at work that the rain and thunderstorms predicted would cancel the big game. It was sprinkling as I picked up the boys at daycare. No messages left from any coaches that the games were cancelled on the answering machine at home.
The boys and I arrived at Lewis Field for the Bats/Timber Rattlers game, the first game of the double header. Kiefer and I played catch while we waited for the rest of the Bats team to arrive. The entire Timber Rattlers team were already to play. Unfortunately, only 4 Bats arrived. The coaches decided it would be just a practice game. Keaton was the starting pitcher for the Bats. Uncle Kevin arrived just before the practice game began and Keaton's mentors, Lynn and Greg (mentors through Big Brothers and Big Sisters) arrived around 6:45 p.m. and planned to stay for the much hyped Nationals/Marlins game which was to begin at the opposite field at 7:30 p.m.
Since the Bats/Timber Rattlers practice game started late, they were still playing when 7:30 p.m. rolled around. Across the field you could see the players assembling for the Nationals/Marlins game. One of the Marlin players ran onto the Bats field and asked Gus if Keaton could come to the other field and begin playing for the Marlins right away, because they were one player short. Gus told the Marlin player no. I believe this was the right decision, because Keaton has a commitment to the Bats team.
After the Bats/Timber Rattlers practice game was over, I quickly helped Keaton get his Marlin's shirt on (He asked me to put the blanket around him for privacy). I walked over to the other field and Keaton ran over to the Marlin bench. I looked over and I noticed that Kiefer was pitching. Kiefer has only pitched a couple of games for the Nationals and he was hoping to pitch tonight. His coach had promised Kiefer that he would be pitching again. I got to see Kiefer strike out a batter, which was their third out. I later learned that Kiefer had walked a couple batters, but no runs were scored.
Now the Nationals were up to bat for the first time. It started raining lightly about this time, and I was glad I brought the rain ponchos. When Kiefer was up to bat, he hit a double and two runs were scored. I believe that three runs were scored by the Nationals in that inning. The next inning Kiefer is pitching again and, who should come up to bat second, but my little Keaton guy. Keaton has a grin a mile long, and we are all cheering madly for him. The coaches on Kiefer's team finally realize that Kiefer is pitching to his little brother. Lots of buzzing in the stands and on the benches about the two Rock brothers playing against each other…someone quick call ESPN.
I don't recall the count, but the third pitch Kiefer throws it inside and hits Keaton in the shin and he starts hopping and tears start to flow. The coaches rush to Keaton’s side. Aunt Lisa who had arrived shortly after me with her daughter Kara and Kara’s friend Raoul, yelled out jokingly to Kiefer that he was grounded. Kiefer kinda grins in his own nervous way, and finally at our urging, checks on Keaton. Keaton says he is okay, and wipes his tears and trots off to first base.
The next batter is up and Keaton steals second, and on the following pitch steals third. He is a little antsy on third, I can tell he wants to steal home. He is not allowed to steal with his 7/8 year old Bats team. Kiefer throws a pitch and the catcher misses it and it rolls behind the catcher. I yell to Keaton to steal home, not thinking that there are two outs. He runs with all his might and has a perfect slide, but the catcher had picked up the ball quickly and throws the ball to Kiefer, who tags his little brother, and the ump calls Keaton out. (I realized right then I was wrong and I should not have urged Keaton to steal home.)
Now the Nationals are up to bat again and their own Damian Miller (who has met the Brewer's player of the same name) has a solo home run and the score is 4-1. The Marlins are able to get out of the inning without another run being scored. The Marlins are up to bat and now Damian is pitching for the Nationals. Several Marlins were walked and now the bases are loaded with two outs. Keaton gets up to bat, he hits several foul balls and it is a full count. Keaton has only been walked in his three games playing for the Marlins. I know that he can hit the ball, and he is anxious to get his first hit. Keaton’s coach tells him to hold the bat higher, so that he will swing the bat faster, and Keaton does as he is told. The pitch comes in and Keaton hits the ball and it bounces between first and second base and it rolls into the outfield. Keaton is safe at first base.
Kiefer is now playing first base and Keaton just smiles at Kiefer. Kiefer turns and looks at him and sticks out his tongue. Two more runs are scored and the game is tied 4-4. Keaton however, was stranded at third base when the third out was made. I contained myself this time and did not yell for Keaton to steal home.
The Nationals, being the home team, have the last at bat. Kiefer is the first batter. I discussed with family and friends around me that Kiefer generally hits the ball to left field. Kevin said that he has a hunch that Kiefer will hit it to his little brother in right field. One of Keaton's coaches tells Keaton to back up.
The first pitch is low and Kiefer swings and misses. The second pitch is high and Kiefer again swings and misses. The third pitch comes in and Kiefer hits a rocket out to right field over Keaton's head. Kiefer is running around the bases and we are enthusiastically cheering for him to go home. Keaton throws it to his cut off man, who then throws it home, but Kiefer is safe. It is Kiefer’s first official home run of the season and the Nationals win it 5-4. Their fourth straight win of the season.
It was an exciting game for the two Rock brothers and I will never forget it. Kiefer received his team's game ball, his second game ball of the season. Keaton was so happy that he got his first hit playing with the 9-10 year olds. There was no indication in Keaton’s demeanor that his team had lost.
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