August 27, 2004



I give you the CEO of Sticker Shock. You'll have to wait until September 13th to find out what that means, but you don't have to wait a second longer for baseball, violence and anti-mentoring. The most gully teacher in Cambridge, number 24, Hua Hsuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu:

"The summer between my third and fourth years of college, I accepted a summer job teaching writing, math and history at the Richmond Youth Project. I had spent a lot of time there the year before as part of a mentorship program and I welcomed the idea of a summer job consisting of big brotherly tasks like taking sixth-graders to see The Player’s Club, or scolding them about drug or gun use.

The summer turned out to be a truly terrible one, for reasons I won’t get into here.

The months grew very taxing and I limped toward the finish line. Whatever sassiness I could muster was directed at the students, who had challenged the staff to a baseball game on the last day of classes. This would be the perfect way to close my summer: I would redeem my spirit on the diamond.

The big day came, and after a night spent visualizing positive things, everything was lining up perfectly. We entered the eighth inning trailing by a run, and I was first up. I had played a solid but unspectacular game with a pair of singles and an error-free performance in the field. But this was crunch-time, and when my team needed me the most, I rapped a groundball to second. I’d like to say I lined it, or that the students had put on the over-shift, or that it was at least sharply hit and short-hopped the second baseman, but it just sort of moseyed toward the dirt, harmless and impotent. I busted tail up the line, conscious that I had just bragged to the program administrator that I would be standing on third when he came to bat.

“I’m going to hit a triple, no matter what. Yeah. That’ll look good in the box-score: a triple.”


“It’s the hardest hit in baseball.”


“So knock me in, I’m going to be in scoring position. We need to put up a crooked number this inning.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“We need the runs.”

“I’ve never played baseball before.”

Luckily, the second baseman, like many of the other people at this baseball game, had never played baseball before either, and he threw wide. I took a liberal turn around first and arrogantly ran through second base: Fuck it, I was going to leg out a triple—I was going to make them make the play. As I strode toward third, thinking to myself how fantastic John Fogarty’s “Centerfield” sounds at a ballpark, and how heroic it would be if this very song played as I rocked a perfect pop-up slide into third, clapped the dust from my hands, pointed at the dugout and shouted, in the simplest language possible, for the administrator to take us home.

As I thought about the imaginary pat on the butt the imaginary third base coach would soon be giving me, I saw something: It was the ball. The ball soon passed me. I was soon running as fast as I could, trying to catch the ball. I sized up the third baseman, one of my brightest, toughest students. The thing is, Mindy, who was then thirteen, was not what one might consider an athletic girl. And considering she had been tossing the glove into the air during my at-bat, it’s safe to say she was probably more surprised than I was that the ball was coming toward her. I made a decision: I’ve put a lot of good hours into these kids, and who would I be to teach them that life is easy or fair, or that one should trust authority. Sometimes, shit happens. Teachers flip out. Cops harass you for no reason. Parents go off. Your twenty-something mentor comes running at you, spikes up, ready to kick the ball out of your mitt. At least I’m not wearing spikes, I assured myself, so I’m going to kick the ball out of Mindy’s mitt. The throw beat me by a good five feet and I went into a premature slide. Mindy stooped awkwardly to receive the ball, similar to the way one might clean up after a dog: Her body was completely stiff and upright, and she was looking the other way, her face striking a disgusted scrunch. By now, my knee was completely torn up (the field we’d been using was more suited for crime, joint-smoking and glass-breaking than baseball) but I eyed Mindy’s extended mitt and gave a swift kick. Sure enough, I connected with her hand, but then again, I was already bleeding, so I figured I’d already suffered my own debt. The ball dribbled out of her glove, I tackled this twelve-year-old girl to the ground, mouthed the word “Sorry” (in my head), stepped on third and went into a slow, one-flap-down trot toward home. I defiantly slammed home plate with my right foot and lamely threw my arms in the air. I noticed that my clothes were covered in dust and blood. I also noticed that none of my teammates had come to greet me after this most unlikely (and totally genius, you have to admit) inside-the-park home-run. Rather, my teammates (administrators, teachers, other mentors) stood there in shock. My boss’ mouth was agape; she seemed too terrified to be angry. The other teacher tried to disguise her disgust with a frightened smile. She tried to clap but her hands just sort of hung in the air. Other adults were covering their faces. The students cackled, since most of them loved violence.

We would eventually win the game, because the students let us. Mindy turned out to be fine. Like I said, she was tough, and I’d like to think she was even tougher after our little run-in at third. I strolled back to the dugout, wondering if it was the dirt or the broken glass that had ripped open my knee. Eventually, a huge, gruesome, lunchmeat-sized scab formed on my knee, and I wore that shit like a badge. A month later, the scab decided to go solo, floating into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and I felt a lot better."

Posted by Sasha at August 27, 2004 09:38 AM | TrackBack