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FIVE-YEAR-OLD SLUGGER
THOMAS LAKE
August 30, 2010
THE VIDEO OF HIS BATTING-CAGE EXPLOITS HAS TURNED HIM INTO AN INTERNET CURIOSITY AND A MEDIA STAR. HOW CAN A KID SO SMALL AND SO YOUNG HANDLE 85-MPH HEAT? ARE HIS PARENTS UP TO SOMETHING? IS ARIEL ANTIGUA FOR REAL?
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August 30, 2010

Five-year-old Slugger

THE VIDEO OF HIS BATTING-CAGE EXPLOITS HAS TURNED HIM INTO AN INTERNET CURIOSITY AND A MEDIA STAR. HOW CAN A KID SO SMALL AND SO YOUNG HANDLE 85-MPH HEAT? ARE HIS PARENTS UP TO SOMETHING? IS ARIEL ANTIGUA FOR REAL?

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Ariel devoured his apple while Miss O'Rorke led the students through a list of things that could be made with apples: juice, pies—

"Apple pizza too," Ariel said.

"Yes," she said, "you could make apple pizza."

If Luis was worried about sending Ariel to Ferris High, he had no need to worry about P.S. 17. The classroom was an oasis of nourishment and affirmation, with two teachers for only 15 students and a laminated poster on the wall that promoted the use of such encouraging phrases as I TRUST IN YOUR DECISION and I LOVE YOU NO MATTER WHAT. Ariel behaved better in school—where there was no athletic competition—than he did anywhere else.

"All right," Miss O'Rorke said. "I'm going to put on the gentle music now."

Ariel took a blanket from a purple canvas bag printed with butterflies and lay down on his Angels Rest cot. He did a few push-ups, rested his head on the cot and closed his eyes.

LATER THAT AFTERNOON we took three cars to The Hot Corner. Luis met us there in the van. Jessica and Gordo got a lift from their friend Julio. The other boys insisted on riding with me.

"Turn up the music!" Ariel said. I cranked up Radio Disney. "All right," he said. "Let's have a party in here!"

We followed Julio down the highway through a hideous Jersey rush hour. Ariel wanted me to honk. "That's what my dad does when he sees people," he said. "Beep beep."

I tapped the horn. Gordo turned around and waved. "Goooorrrrdoooo!!!!!" the boys said, thrilled at the novelty of seeing their brother on the highway in another car.

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