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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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THAT AFTERNOON we piled into the old white minivan to watch Ariel throw out the first pitch for the Somerset Patriots. The boys interviewed me as we chugged through Jersey City. I told them I was also one of four brothers. They asked if we had played baseball together, and I said yes.

"Who hit the home run?" Ariel said.

"One time I did," I said. "We used to play in the backyard. And because it was in Georgia, we had a bigger space. We actually had a swimming pool back there. And one day I got the perfect hit. I think I was 11 at the time."

"And it went in the pool?" Luis Jr. said.

"Pssssshhhhhhh," I said, describing the splash.

The boys knew a little about Georgia. Their father had taken them to visit his cousin in Powder Springs, northwest of Atlanta. They saw it as a wild and magical land. "Go to Georgia where you used to play when you hit the home run," Ariel said. "Look for the ball and jump in the pool and then get the ball and swim back up." I said I would.

The van roared toward the setting sun. The boys talked among themselves. "That's what they said on the TV show," Luis said. "That he's a short 32-year-old."

"Who said that?" I asked.

"I don't know," Yamil said. "This man was like, 'He's a short 32-year-old.'"

"On the computer," Ariel said. I realized they were talking about Pat Tomasulo's snarky video. They had all watched it several times. I asked how it made them feel.

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