CHAPTER ONE

Spring

The morning sun is just peaking over the rolling hills of his fatherís farm while Thomas Alexander is finishing his chores before school. With his chores completed, he is sitting at the breakfast table, putting a band aid on his right index finger. He punctured it on a nail while cleaning out the barn. That small cut worries him, he hopes it wonít affect his throwing. He wolfs down a quick meal, then starts his morning run to school. There is frost on the first mile marker, as he checks his watch to make sure he is keeping a proper pace. He can see his breath in the brisk morning air. The first mile is always the toughest, the torrent pace he keeps, makes his lungs burn.


The precision of the distance between each mile marker is accurate, right down to the decimal point. Last summer, he talked a county road worker into letting him borrow a wheel used for marking the millage along the roadway.  Tom used it to measure the distance of his morning run, it is 5.6 miles from the front of his driveway gate to the baseball diamond at the back of the school.


After his morning run, Tom sits in the dugout putting on his cleats for his daily practice. It isnít an organized practice.  It is just Tomís way of striving to make himself better. Tom makes most everything he does into a competition, even if it is with himself. His self-appointed practice is no exception.


The very nature of Tom's favorite sport contributes to his obsession. Statistics are, and always will be the life's blood of the game known as baseball; batting averages, RBI's, strikeouts per game, fielding percentages, the distances balls were hit, box scores, the distance from the mound to home plateÖ 60 feet 6 inches, all are numbers that Tom can measure his accomplishments with and improve upon.


Thomas is not only the best player on his baseball team but, possibly, one of the best players in the state. Now, in his senior year of high school, scouts from several colleges and even a few professional scouts have contacted Tom and his family regarding his playing days beyond high school.


Tom feels something is in the air.  For him, there is an anticipation of something special unfolding, a life changing event.


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