Filed by Darren Epps
I didn't want to waste too much space on my best day in baseball in the print version of our paper, not when stories from Jeff Francoeur and Tim Hudson needed to be told. So I'll do it here.
I played most of my little league ball in Coppell, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas near the airport. To this day, I never flinch when a plane flies overhead because the sound of one taking off or landing was just part of the background noise in Coppell.
My little brother, Matt, and I were lucky. When we moved to Coppell from Richmond, Va., in 1988, our next-door neighbor had a son my age named Aaron Andrews. And he had a little brother close to Matt's age named Adam. Perfect. So for about eight months out of the year, we played baseball in the street with a tennis ball from sunrise to sunset. There was a batter, a pitcher, catcher and an outfielder. We had rules and lots of imaginary runners. The game never stopped. Sometimes, temperatures would reach 105 degrees and my mom would come out with lemonade and a plea to come inside. But we never did.
Aaron and I both played on all the all-star teams, but he was a little better athlete than me (he went on to play college basketball for a small school in Texas). I must have thrown 20,000 pitches to him in the street.
One night in Little League, our team played Aaron's team. No big deal. I usually played shortstop and Aaron usually batted high in the order. I remember our pitcher walked the bases loaded with two outs and our coach went to the mound, chatted for a moment, then summoned me to pitch. This was not terribly unusual since I could throw strikes, though they did not always cross the plate at a particularly high rate of speed.
It was only after warmups that I realized I was brought in to face Aaron Andrews with the bases loaded and two outs. Our eyes met and he stepped out of the box. I stepped off the mound. And this little charade continued for about a minute because neither one of us could stop laughing. I had some great games and big hits and diving plays, but for some reason I'll never forget that. My best day.
Anyway, Aaron popped out to second base -- I can still remember that -- and my coach congratulated me for "getting their best guy out." I told my coach I was pretty aware Aaron was a good player. I faced Aaron several more times before our family moved and I'm pretty sure he got a hit in every single at-bat. In fact, the only reason he didn't get a hit that one night was likely because he was laughing.
So that's my best day, and I hope you share yours. I suppose that's my best day because it reminds me of baseball in the street with my best friend, living in Texas and those glorious days of Little League. All in one memory.
E-mail Darren Epps at firstname.lastname@example.org