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One Photo; One Story: DiMaggio.

Editors Note: This story was originally written in 1999 for a creative writing class.

I can still hear his voice. Now batting for the New York Yankees. Number 7, Mickey Mantle, Number 7. Bob Sheppard almost swallowed the 'tle' in Mantle. For a 7 year old, Mickey Mantle seemed like a giant. He was a legend and a hero. He made a huge impression in my young mind that day my Dad took me to Yankee Stadium for the first time.

Somewhere deep down, it was the stories of Joe DiMaggio that fed my imagination. Here is the

story of a day dream I had in school.

Fallen leaves charge across the school yard in a mad stampede. I watch from the window and wonder what they're racing from. A womans voice is murmuring in the background. I should be listening, but I'm not.

My thoughts are in the park. The vision of green grass, dirt, and the long hazy afternoon of summer. A crack of the bat and I'm running again after the ball. Sometimes I'm Mickey Mantle, Ruth, or Dimaggio shagging fly balls in the Bronx. I hear the woman's voice again, "one plus one equals?" "Two strikes." Yells the coach. "Now hit the ball." I dig in and see a large nine year old staring in. He looks like the new Mets ace, Tom Seaver. "I'm only seven." I say to myself." I don't want to die."

Seaver delivers the pitch. "Strike three!" Roars the Umpire. My heart is pounding as I walk off the field, the nine year old laughs. Time to go out to the outfield and be Dimaggio again. I hear a slight whistle in the old windows of the school. The midmorning sun doesn't seem as high as it did a few weeks ago. The lady's voice again. I think I hear my name. "Mark." 'Second base, Mark, second base.' The other kids are shouting. I grab the ball out of the wet grass and hurl it with all my might. The throw trickles in, the runner is safe. Mickey Mantle is way bigger than me.

"This is the second time I've called you, Mark. Are you paying attention? " The lady again. Of course I am.

Two outs and a man at second. My thoughts are fading. More leaves scoot across the yard and stick to the fence. They are being held against their own will. The strong autumn wind has chased away summer. That woman's voice is ruining the game. "Mark! Come up here ". The teacher barks. I stand and walk slowly past my terrified classmates. My teacher is getting larger with every step. A laugh from across the room reminds me of that Tom Seaver sized nine year old.

Above the teachers desk, I see numbers tacked to the cork board. One thru nine, the exact innings in a baseball game. Silhouettes of great presidents are arranged in order on the wall. "Wow! The Murderers Row of America" I whisper to no one. The teacher asks me to face the class. The walls of the classroom are a bright yellow. They reflect the low autumn sun like the lights at Yankee Stadium.

I am standing in front of my peers and they are watching me. Like the Mudville Nine watched the mighty Casey. Only I'm Bob Gibson, of the St. Louis Cardinals, the greatest pitcher that ever lived. Miss Watson asks me for the third time, "What is two plus one?" Three. Strike Three. Game Over.

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