Picking up a bat had always held a special pleasure. Part of the magic of baseball was waiting in the on deck circle, groping through the pile of available lumber, hefting several 32 and 34 inchers, absorbing the handle’s girth and smoothness that must fit your hands just right, testing the dynamics with a practice stroke, imagining the violence of ball contact and the desired result. Not a careless decision. A bat had to be right.
Fashioned from tradition and a century of engineered development, the wooden weapons were similar enough to look at, but any player knew a bat had a soul. Black or tan, short and chubby or long heavies that only our slugger, Geoff Remond, could handle, they were stacked or strewn on the grass near the bench, a jumbled assortment of the same ten or twelve Louisville Sluggers used from the start of the season. Occasionally, as the season went along and the coach would slip in a few new ones, the new bat, enthusiastically announced by the discoverer, would be duly evaluated with the rest.
Trying any bat that happened to feel right was standard procedure, but changing was no small event. The right bat was everything. Each boy had his favorite that had yielded success at some point in the form of a hit or long delicious drive. No forgetting. When a player committed the cardinal sin of smacking a pitch off the label and broke a productive bat, someone would immediately holler “what did you use?” to determine the extent of the damage, and if he had been harmed.
But today there was no careful consideration on my father’s part as he grabbed my bat for his angry march down the pasture.

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