The Hymn of Uwchlan Ems

Uwchlan, Uwchlan..

The paean drifted across Buttzville field as peacefully as snowfall. Each sturdy wooden seat remained folded upright as every gathered resident stood and sang. Solemn, yet inspirational, the Hymn of Uwchlan Ems sounded through the stadium and echoed along the empty streets of Buttzville for every plate appearance of their lanky shortstop. Uwchlan Ems knocked the weight from his bat and walked to the plate.

The field before you
Drive the darkness away
Victory is the gift
May our Lord give us peace

Uwchlan Ems gazed down the first base line to center fielder Ruben Dorrel, who walked on five pitches, and nodded. Ruben Dorrel took a healthy three stride lead off first. The gathered residents took their seats and prayed as the hymn ended. Silence fell as Uwchlan Ems stepped into the batter’s box and prepared himself for the first pitch.

Gas Roper closed his eyes and allowed his mind drift to the past. In his vision, he watched his cut fastball sail over the left field wall as he fell to his knees in disgrace. Although kept to a respectful reticence, whispers from crowd resonated as loudly as the crack of the bat in his mind. There was jubilance in their relief but they would say that is not true. Every young pitcher needs to learn the lessons taught by failure and Gas Roper would finally understand the fury of consequence because of one mislocated pitch. This failure screamed a truth that Gas Roper needed to understand in order to prepare for the Eastern League. The tremendous burden of The Responsibility perhaps can be implied and that is the goal of youth clubs. The burden cannot be explained comprehensively.

Gas Roper closes his eyes and watches that ball crash into the empty stands before winding up every pitch.

Three fingers dangled clandestinely from catcher Dowrus Puncillaret’s crotch. Gas Roper, glove held to his jaw, emerged from his thoughts and expressed agreement. He turned to first base and fired a rocket. Firstbaseman Beflun stepped to his bag and in one fluid motion caught the ball and swiped to the ground, tagging a diving Ruben Dorrel with several inches to spare.

“Out.” the first base bishop testified then began towards the records pulpit.

No cause within reason would prompt argument against the judgement. Ruben Dorrel quelled his instincts and gathered himself. He stood from the dirt and walked the silent mile to the dugout bench. His legs weakened as he climbed down the stairs. The portly Buttzville manager grabbed his center fielder’s armpit in concern for his balance. Ruben Dorrel assured the portly manager that indeed he was lucid and capable. The portly manager assured Ruben Dorrel. And so two lies were exchanged. Trembling and sweatfaced, Ruben Dorrel smiled and released from the steadying grip of the portly manager. He stumbled to the corner of the dugout and peered side to side, intending to assess the gathered residents’ visibility. However, his situation demanded action regardless of solitude or publicness. Ruben Dorrel unbuckled his belt and fell squat over the dugout refuse bucket as his howling bowel pushed wet. The portly manager placed his comforting hand on Ruben Dorrel’s back while the center fielder emptied with a final surge and the Hymn of Uwchlan Ems floated down as a cascade of rose petals from the stands.

The first base bishop returned to the field after recording his testimony marking the end of intermission. The hymn concluded. The contest resumed as did the gathered residents’ prayers.

Uwchlan Ems stood ready in the batter’s box, shoulders wearily hunched, knees bent slightly. Gas Roper opened his eyes and looked to Dowrus Puncillaret. The catcher signaled for a cut fastball to stymie Uwchlan Ems. The pitcher nodded an agreement and entered his stance. Gas Roper considered The Responsibility in the weight of the ball. He wound and let fly his cutter.

The sound of the bat striking the ball was the same as the whip crack. Uwchlan Ems managed strong contact with the pitch, but to Gas Roper’s tempered relief, the ball careened foul. The pitcher released a patient sigh and the catcher threw him a fresh ball. Gas Roper regained composure and read the signal. Cut fastball. He nodded. He had strong faith that this pitch would prove successful. He removed his cap and wiped sweat from his brow then slapped the cap back onto his head. Gas Roper wound and fired an identical cutter. Uwchlan Ems swung with might remarkable from a man of his seeming constitution. Dowrus Puncillaret snatched the ball and the home plate bishop testified, “Strike two.”
Uwchlan Ems slammed the head of his bat into the dirt with overflowing frustration, his will and reasoning drifted away, threatening to escape his reach. His thoughts darted to Buttzville Draft Day. Of the call to fill shortstop. Of his first contest with the team, just a week ago, a victory that will not be forgotten but is devoid of any relevance in this moment. Uwchlan Ems breathed deep the sweet Buttzville summer air and stomped into the batter’s box with confidence.

Gas Roper closed his eyes.

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