One tiny white
One bed, shared
by boy and father
One big cardboard
box full of used bats, gloves, bases and catcher's gear, purchased from the
Sacred Heart yard sale for $3
Place the father
on a chair on the front stoop of the tiny white house in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Place the pudgy
boy on the gravel road. Have him throw baseballs to the father, who catches
them with a glove on his right hand, tucks the ball beneath his chin, whisks
off the glove, grabs the ball and throws it back with the same hand because his
left one is gnarled and useless.
The boy must
throw with accuracy. Otherwise he must chase the ball because his father's left
leg is dead.
after hour, day after day. See if the boy's passion is as big as his big league
dream. See, when he's five, if he'll suit up in the catcher's gear and let the
father bounce baseballs off his body. He does. See if he stops playing catch
when it starts snowing. He doesn't.
Anoint the boy
with a nifty nickname when he's a toddler. Something that makes him feel
special even though his home is motherless and his family just scrapes by.
Doesn't matter that the kid doesn't know the nickname's meaning. Tell him it
was just a sound uttered by his cousin, a two-year-old Winnebago girl who was
trying to pronounce the name of her older brother, Joshua, 20 years ago. Joba.
Pronounced JAH-buh. So much more dynamic, Joba Chamberlain, than Justin
Chamberlain, decides the dad, Harlan. So befitting his dynamic little boy.