The Pitcher Wore Braids

by Marsha Doss

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    Cindy liked to paint and draw and play with her favorite dolls. She liked ruffled dresses, pretty hats, and shoes. In fact, she liked just about everything that most girls like. But more than anything, Cindy liked to play baseball!

    Cindy had practiced pitching balls to George and Sam, her two older brothers, and she was really good.

    “You should play baseball,” George told her one day. And Sam agreed.

    “I’d like that,” Cindy said. There was nothing she wanted to do as much as play baseball during her vacation, even though she was a girl. But she knew there was little chance of her being able to do so. There was just one team in town, and only boys played on it.

    Every afternoon she passed the city park on her way home from school. She always stopped at the baseball field to watch the teams warm up.

    One afternoon while Cindy watched from the bleachers, she had an idea. She hurried over to Mr. Turner, the manager. “Can I join the team?” she asked.

    The tall man smiled. “Are you joking? This is a boy’s sport! No girls are allowed on the team!” he replied.

    “Why not?” Cindy questioned.

    Mr. Turner thought for a moment before he answered, “I … well … we just don’t have girls. That’s why!”

    “What if a girl can play as well as or even better than a boy? Could she get on the team then?” Cindy asked.

    Mr. Turner thought about her question for a moment and then said slowly, “Well, I don’t know. It’s never been done here before, and I know the boys wouldn’t like it.”

    Cindy shook her head. It isn’t fair, she thought. I know I can pitch better than any boy on the team, but they still won’t let me play.

    The next day Cindy was back in the bleachers watching the ball speed back and forth. Suddenly there was a loud smack, and Cindy heard the pitcher cry out as he dropped the ball.

    “What’s wrong?” Mr. Turner asked, as he rushed out to the mound where the pitcher stood holding his wrist.

    “I think I sprang my wrist,” the boy moaned.

    Putting his arm around the boy, Mr. Turner walked back to the bench with him.

    “What’ll we do now?” the boys asked. “Our big game is this weekend. No one on the team can pitch as well as Mike!”

    Cindy knew she could help the team. She hurried down from the bleachers and ran over to the boys who were huddled in a group trying to decide what to do.

    “I can pitch for you!” she suggested.

    The boys turned around and looked at Cindy. They began to smile.

    “You? You’re a girl!” one of them laughed.

    “I’m a girl,” Cindy agreed, “but I can pitch. Please give me a chance.”

    The boys looked at one another. No one said anything for a moment. Finally Mr. Turner smiled. “Why not, boys?” he asked. “Let’s give Cindy a chance.”

    Cindy walked to the pitcher’s mound, and the other team members returned to their positions. The catcher threw a few balls to Cindy, and the game started.

    Cindy pitched the rest of the game. Afterward Mr. Turner came up to her and said, “Congratulations! I didn’t think you could play ball, but I was wrong!”

    The boys agreed. “But what about the game this weekend?” they asked.

    “I can play for you, Mr. Turner,” Cindy offered.

    He looked at her and then at the boys. Finally he said, “Okay, Cindy. It might work out just fine this time.”

    The boys cheered, and Cindy beamed with excitement.

    The rest of the week Cindy practiced every afternoon with the team. And when Saturday finally arrived, she was ready for the big game.

    At first the crowd laughed when they saw a girl walk out to the pitcher’s mound with long braids showing beneath her cap. But they soon saw what a good ball player Cindy really was.

    “You were great, Cindy,” the boys said as they crowded around her after winning the game. “We couldn’t have won without you!”

    It had been a wonderful afternoon for Cindy. She was too happy to say anything. All she could do was look around at the team, toss her braids, and smile!

    Illustrated by Liz Dunlap