At the end of Ball Park Road in Bayboro, on field number three, 15 boys line up behind home plate. Most of them are 11 years old.
“I knew they were going to run us,” I overhear one of the boys say. He doesn’t sound like he’s complaining.
Mosquitos have started to bite; it’s the end of May. Crickets and seagulls are heard but not seen. The baseball field is flanked by a field overgrown with weeds on one side and on the other, a thick forest that smells like pine.
Grace Veberes, and Lillie-May Ipock—both seven and little sisters of boys on the team—play Barbies on a small stand of bleachers behind the fence.
“Most of the team had never played before,” says Susan Veberes, one of the moms. “To see where they started and where they are now…” She shakes her head.
They are the Edwards Erectors, named after their sponsor, and part of the Pamlico Babe Ruth League, holding a 1-9 record. Their final game is this weekend. This is their last practice—unless they choose to continue through the summer, just for fun.
Half of the players are now running bases, the other half on the field. They listen closely to the head coach, Chuck Edwards, who rarely raises his voice, doesn’t smile and signals approval with a nod.
“Need duct tape in his glove to cover up the hole it just went through,” notes a parent seated in a folding chair that he brought himself.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We don’t score enough runs to give ’em away,” Coach Edwards tells the team. The ball was dropped.
After more running drills, they meet in the outfield, away from the bleachers, and take a knee.
The coaches and assistants talk to the players about the summer and the upcoming game. Their voices turn more tender.
”Y’all enjoy winning last week?” asks an assistant coach. It was their first and only win. The team yells “yeah!”
“Only one thing that feels better,” he continues with a wink, “winning again.”
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