Chapter Two: Way Germier Than Softball

  

The school nurse’s big white skirt and clompy white shoes made her look like a snowman. She put her arm around Robby’s shoulders and walked him to her office. There was a desk and a bed/table thingy that they made you lay down on when you we feeling sick.

Robby climbed up onto the bed/table thingy and laid down on his back. There was a big window and Robby could see the blacktop where the janitor guys were mopping up the vomit. Robby gagged just as the nurse stuck a thermometer in his mouth.

“Keep your mouth closed,” she said. “I’ll be right back.”

Robby didn’t feel good. He closed his eyes, sucked on the thermometer and just laid there until the nurse came back and told him to sit up.

She popped the thermometer out of his mouth and gave it a look.

“How is your stomach feeling now?”

“It feels like there’s something inside my stomach trying to eat its way out,” said Robby. Lifting up his shirt he showed the nurse the big angry red mark where the ball had smacked into his stomach.

“Wow. You have a really good imagination,” said the nurse. “Do you want me to call and have your Mom pick you up?”

The last thing Robby wanted was for his Mom to know he’d been hit by a baseball and thrown up.

“No,” Robby said. “Please don’t do that. I’ll be okay.”

“Alright, but you should lie down for a while,” the nurse said. She put a wet towel on his forehead and walked out of the room.

Robby laid back and was about to close his eyes when he saw a piece of paper stuck to his stomach. Robby grabbed the paper with his right hand.

BANG, BANG, BANG!  Somebody was pounding on the window. Robby turned his head and saw Jeff Hicks and all the Sports Guys standing outside. Jeff looked right at Robbie and pounded his fist into his hand. Then he said, “I am gonna pound you for telling on me, dork.” All his friends started laughing. BAM BAM BAM. They kept  pounding on the glass. Then they started chanting.

“Dorks, dorks, they can’t play sports! Dorks, dorks, they can’t play sports!”

Robby looked away. He looked at the piece of paper in his hand.Oak ParkBaseball League. It was one of the flyers from Principal Dume’s clipboard. It said, “Everybody can try out! Everybody can play!”

The Sports Guys banged on the window. “Dorks, dorks, they can’t play sports! Dorks, dorks they can’t…”

EVERYBODY CAN TRY OUT. EVERYBODY CAN PLAY. Hmm. Robby got an idea. He slid off the bed/table thingy and pulled the shades over the window. Still lots of banging, but no more Sports Guys.

So Jeff Hicks thought dorks couldn’t play baseball. Well, why couldn’t they? What if Robby played baseball? What then? Would he still be a dork? Would he?

Robby spent the next two hours in the nurse’s office lying on the bed/table thingy thinking so hard his brain started smoking. The nurse came in every half hour or so to check on him and give him a new wet towel to put on his forehead. His stomach hurt. He was just starting to get hungry when Alex and Melvin walked in. They had his backpack.

“We thought you’d probably want your lunch,” Alex said.

Melvin, said, “Jeff Hicks had to go to the Principal’s office. He said you told on him and he’s gonna pound you.”

            “Guys, I’ve got an idea,” said Robby, holding up the flyer. “We are going to play baseball.”

            Robby’s friends looked at him like he’d grown an extra head and 10 extra ears. “Why?” said Melvin.

            “Because if we make the baseball league then Jeff Hicks and those guys will leave us alone.”  

            “Why?” said Melvin.

            “Because we won’t be dorks any more,” said Robby. “The whole reason those guys pick on us so much is because we don’t play sports. They think if a kid doesn’t play sports, he’s got to be a dork. And guys like Jeff think if somebody’s a dork, they can pick on them and give them noogies and stuff.”

            Melvin and Alex looked at each other. Then they looked at Robby.

            “Well can’t they?” said Alex. “I mean, those guys are stronger than us. They’re tougher.”

            “But it’s not right,” said Robby. “We gotta show those guys we’re just as good as they are. We gotta show them that dorks can play sports.”

            “You’re right,” said Melvin. “Let’s do it.”

            “I’m in too,” said Alex.

            Robby hopped off the table even though it hurt his stomach. “Alright you guys. We’ve got six weeks to learn how to play baseball. My class has library today so I’ll see if they have some kind of book on baseball for beginners or something.”

            After lunch, when Robby’s class went to the library, he asked the librarian where he could find the baseball books. There were a lot of books with titles like The Babe and Me, and Heroes of the 1967 World Series and stuff, and it took Robby 15 minutes to find the one he wanted.

The title was Baseball for Beginners. There was a picture of a kid wearing baseball clothes on the cover. The kid was standing in the middle of a baseball field by himself. A ball was coming right at him. He looked scared. This looks like the one for me, Robby thought.

He sat down on the carpet and flipped the book open to the Table of Contents. There were 10 chapters. Each chapter taught you one thing you needed to know if you wanted to play baseball. The first chapter was called, “The Stuff You Need to Play Baseball.” It had a picture of a baseball just like the one that hit Robby in the stomach. Robby started to read:

Hi kids! If you want to play baseball but don’t know how, this book will teach you all you need to know! But before you learn to play baseball, you need some stuff.

Robby read the whole chapter. It said the first thing you needed if you wanted to play baseball was a glove. The book showed what a baseball glove looked like, and what it was for. Robby learned about baseball bats. He learned that there were bats made of wood and bats made of some kind of metal called aluminum. He learned that baseballs were made out of cork and rubber wrapped in leather and stitched up with cotton thread. Each baseball had 108 stitches. Pretty cool stuff, Robby thought. He wondered if Jeff Hicks and those guys knew this stuff.

By the time library hour was over, Robby had read the whole chapter. He knew that you played baseball on a “field” and that fans (people who came to watch a game) sat in the “stands” which seemed weird. He knew about bases. He knew that when players hit a “home run” they usually didn’t run at all. He could hardly wait to read the next chapter, which was called “How to Throw a Baseball.” But library time was over. Robby walked over to the librarian’s desk and checked out the book. He had a lot of reading to do, but he felt like he was already getting the hang of baseball. Maybe dorks could play sports after all.

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