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And he didn't. You don't forget a thing like that when you're making up your list of heroes.
I don't know exactly how long Dr. Simon's lot was, maybe a hundred yards, but only about 60 yards of that was playable because of the trees at either end. But we used them as goal-line markers, and, as a matter of fact, it was two of those very trees that helped me to make probably the greatest play of my life and win that accolade I've referred to.
The boundary on one side was the curb of the street, so it was a pretty good idea not to get knocked out of bounds there. The other sideline was the demarcation between Dr. Simon's lot and old man Oates's. Simon's lot was always mowed, but Oates's wasn't, so the sideline there was sort of like the difference between fairway and rough.
We didn't have a first-down marker. We usually considered two completed passes in a row, of some vague distance, or a run of an equally arbitrary distance, as constituting a first down.
Or at least it did if you won the inevitable argument.
The day of the play, the play that still sticks out in my memory, began like any other. It was a Saturday, and it was getting late. Once again, even though I was on Al's team, I had been chosen last. Perhaps he'd overlooked me, or perhaps he'd had other things on his mind. But. nevertheless, I'd still had to trot to my team's huddle with my head down and that feeling of third-rateness running through me.
We'd been playing for hours, and dark was descending. I don't remember what the score was; all I knew was that we needed one more touchdown to win.
We were on about the other team's 10-yard line and had to score on that drive. We were well inside the sun's two-minute warning. In the huddle Al called a pass play, telling his main receivers where he wanted them to go. I didn't get any special instruction.
But I ran out on what I guess you could call a fly pattern, without much expectation of seeing the ball since the big guys seldom threw to us minor-leaguers, certainly never in critical situations.
But as I ran down the right sideline, nearing the goal-line trees, I looked back and saw Al scrambling, frantically looking for an open receiver, any receiver.