The rise of Jacob Chiprush
Ok, this is not a happy story. There is only one good part, and at least three that are very, very sad. So, I shall repeat what I said, this is a sad story. Keep that in mind as you read this story….
Sorry, I just had to warn you. Plus, better I tell you now than tell you later. So, now I have your attention, here it goes.
My name is Jacob. Jacob Chiprush. I’m a baseball player. Living 15 minutes away from the Miami Marlins stadium, I grew up watching the Marlins play. I more than anything wanted to be a pro baseball player and become a hometown hero. But, I can’t hit the ball.
Anyways, my team, the Pythons, was at their first practice before they went into the playoffs when coach came up to me. He’s a bulky man that could probably break the world record in any food eating competition.
“Jacob!” he yelled as he came over to me, “get in the batting cage, you’re up! Hit a grand slam and I’ll take the whole team out for ice cream after practice.”
“Yes sir!” I said and went up. When I got in there I watched Logan throw a 2,000 M.P.H fastball. I ducked, it looked wild. As I got up, I found Jack looking at me, grinning. Meaning it had been a great pitch. This was going to be a long post season.
. . .
I forgot to tell you, the Pythons suck. The only reason we made the playoffs was when the Warriors coach broke his arm and the team forfeited the season. The league held a drawing to see which team would take the Warriors spot. We just happened to win it.
I felt as if I had a good chance to hit the ball. The Kings pitcher was slow, but had great accuracy. I came a millimeter away from hitting it once, the whole crowd went “ooooohhhhhhhh!” when I missed.
Despite our teams 5 for 26 hitting, we pitched like our life depended on it and won 1-0. I wish we may have lost.
Our next game was vs. the bees. I can’t forget the 4th inning. What an inning it was, very memorable. Yet it was also so horrible…
We were down 5-3 when I got a nice clean hit right at the shortstop. BAM! BAM! The first bam was my foot hitting the bag. The second was the ball touching the glove of the 1st baseman.
“Out!” yelled the umpire.
“What?” I asked, “How was I out? You lump of cheese.”
“Hey you want out of this game for good?” asked the ump.
“Go ah…” I couldn’t finish because someone grabbed me from behind. It was the catcher for the Bees. He, however, wasn’t the one I was looking for…
I pushed the catcher away and darted faster than a speeding bullet. I zoned in on my target. Tom Fredrik. First baseman for the Bees. He was the one who caused all of this to happen.
Standing next to Tom was the backup linebacker for the all city team. I, however, acted like nothing happened and flew past him.
By now, his whole team was screaming his name “Tom! Tom!” but it didn’t matter. I was past them and Tom didn’t look up until I was all over him.
I won’t tell you the details of the tussle, but I heard Tom ended up in the hospital with a broken nose and I was in Cody Smith, the league officer’s, office. I was suspended for two games.
We ended up with an 11-8 win over the Bees before going on a 2-1 and 5-2 victory against the Vikings and Warthogs. We were in the Semi’s.
. . .
Before I tell you about the main hurrah, I must tell you something that happened at the end of the Warthog’s game.
I was sitting there, watching us win when Bill came up to me. Bill is my only friend on the Pythons. I hoped he had good info for me; he was the owl of the tree.
“Hey!” he said as he sat down next to me, “how ya doing?”
“What do you want?” I retorted back to him.
“Your bat looks too heavy for you.” he replied, “try this one.” He gave me a bat.
“Why?” I asked
“BECAUSE WHY!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
Luckily, the 2nd baseman made an unbelievable snag, so nobody but Bill heard me.
“Try it.” he whispered.
“Ok, have it your way.” I said.
“Great.” he replied and walked away.
It was the Semifinals, Sharks vs. Pythons. USSR vs. USA. And just like that day 29 years ago, it was the second to last game that would often be remembered as the finals.
Just like in that game, the underdogs took a lead early and they were both 2-0. People started wondering what happened to the Sharks. I heard one fan say, “This could be the greatest upset in sports since Miracle on Ice!” If only he knew.
In the 5th, a thing that was also parallel with the 1980 hockey game. The great player got taken out. Jose Ortiz (who later was a closer for the Houston Astros) was a 15-2 pitcher and had a 1.11 ERA in the regular season and a 3-0 record with a 0.67 ERA in the playoffs that season. He was taken out.
The Sharks took it as a motivation to score 3 runs and take a 3-2 lead. In the 8th, it all went crazy. And Bill was in the middle of it all.
In the bottom of the 8th Bill was on 3rd and Jack was up, ready to hit the ball. Jack hit the ball to deep center field. It is still a mystery if the centerfielder ever made the catch or not but one thing is for sure. It was close.
Bill took off. He thought it was a clean hit. He got out at the plate. He went up to argue with the umpire, not noticing the whole group of Sharks, circling around him. Their pitcher however made sure there was a small hole between the mound and the plate.
He took the game ball, walked to the mound, and fired right at the back of Bill’s head. It looked like it was going to knock out Bill.
Next thing I know, Steve comes charging out of the dugout. Helmet on head and bat in hand. He dives at the ball and just barely makes contact. It goes an inch at most but, Steve’s master plan isn’t done yet . He slowly trots around the bases, with Jack just ahead. They both don’t stop until they get to the plate.
It took about 15 minutes until the umps realized what happened and fixed it, it ended up being 2 runs to us.
Their theory was that Steve was the next batter and the centerfielder never caught the ball. That way, Bill was only the second out, and then Steve and Jack scored.
The third out was the next batter, but in the 9th, we allowed a run, having the score tied at 5-5 heading to the bottom of the 9th.
In the bottom of the 9th, Danny, our best hitter, hit a triple. It ended it off with a stare down that showed the Sharks who was the boss.
The next two hitters came up, and came back, shaking their heads.
Coach called a timeout and everyone huddled up. Well everyone except Danny, who was too busy pacing around to join us.
“OK!” said coach in the huddle, “Who wants to go up and face this guy?” Nobody raised their hand. I suddenly had a great idea. I raised my hand, slowly.
“NO!!” yelled everyone but, our coach didn’t listen to the team moaning or groaning.
“OK, who else will go up?” asked coach. Nobody moved a muscle.
“OK than, Jacob it is!” yelled coach. But, I was already getting ready.
You may ask why I did this but once I tell you, it will make sense. The game was tied. If I missed, it would go into extra innings. But also, if this were the case, I would be the last batter to hit.
I’m sure the pitcher could hear my heart thump as I walked up to the plate. I again went back to the 1980 Miracle team and I found a difference. Their captain was the one who had scored the game winner. I was not this team’s Captain.
I was blurry eyed as the first two pitches zoomed by me. Then someone threw a pitch that was right down the middle. I cowardly made contact as it was hit right at the pitcher. I could see the grin on his face as the ball came toward him.
Someone screamed real loudly as the ball touched the pitcher’s glove and landed on the ground as the pitcher fell over. He was in time to watch Danny stomp on the plate like we owned the team, the stadium and everything in it.
All I remember about the next 5 minutes is that I couldn’t see a thing. Besides an occasional ear here and leg there. My teammates were all over me.
Then we gathered at home plate as some parent with an iphone played (what else) Miracle on Ice. When Al Simmons would get to the end, we would all yell the same word as him “Yes!”
We than went to the line, and watched the other team get their third place trophy’s. We clapped after every one then coach went to their coach said a few things in whispers.
Now, we huddled up in the corner and coach talked to us.
“Great guys!” he yelled at us, “you boys just became men out there!” He pulled the game ball out of his pocket and said, “Everyone put your heads down and when I say the name of the person you think should win the team game ball for today, raise your hand and please remember, you can’t vote for yourself!”
We all put our heads down and coach started calling our names out one by one.
“Joe, Bob, Stanly, Steve, Jose, David, Will, Danny, Jack, Logan, Jacob.”
It took a while before he called us up.
“OK.” he said, “Danny got one vote and Jacob came in 1st with 14 votes!” (I gave Danny his one vote)
I felt num as I caught the ball. And I raised it high. I knew all the fans started clapping. I could get use to this.
. . .
I felt my spine tingle down my back as I walked into the dugout. It felt like this game was just like any other game, but I knew much better than that.
It was 2 days after the Sharks game and we played in the finals. I was now the face of the sport of baseball. I had already; in two days received calls from Larry Bird, Jose Reyes, Payton Manning, ESPN and CBS sports.
I told the media that I was shy; I would never appear on TV for them. Even if they were willing to give 2 million dollars to my mom and dad, I would still never come on national TV. That got some groans.
But right now, I had to put that all to the side and focus on one thing: baseball. And we were playing the Tigers; a good team that had 2 of their 3 losses to the Sharks, which we had just beat.
The game got under way but it was ugly, boy was it gross but that was NOT a good thing, it was very bad.
By the time we came back for the 4th inning, the score was 7-1. And it was not in our favor but, we had a huge 4th inning, scoring a total of 3 runs. We were back in it.
But the rest of the game was not in our favor and we lost in a horrible fashion that I wish to forget, 19-5. And the Tigers were the team that had 19. It was done, all over, we had a great run, but we came out in a huge limp at the end.
. . .
I will never forget rising above all. Hitting contact and watching Danny go completely nuts. As we scored the final run and acted like we were the USA, and we had just beat the USSR, by one.