Timmy’s mouth dropped open. He recognized the tall stranger, only he no longer felt like a stranger to him. Mr. Godfrey recognized Timmy right away.
“Hi. Do you remember me? I think we met a while back when your ball rolled into the street,” Mr. Godfrey said, bending down so that he could talk to Timmy.
“Yeah, I remember.” Timmy said while nodding his head.
“I’m sorry about your ball. I was going to get it for you, but the truck got to it before I could.”
“I like baseball,” Timmy blurted out, thinking back to what Mrs. Cunningham had told the class earlier.
“You do?” Mr. Godfrey said. “I’m going to read a story about baseball to your class. I am going to read about my favorite baseball player.”
Mrs. Cunningham got the children’s attention and then walked off to talk to the librarian as Mr. Godfrey began.
“Have any of you ever heard of Babe Ruth?” he asked them.
The students sat quietly as he read a story about the legendary hitter, nicknamed “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat”. He told them about his 15 years with the New York Yankees, and how he helped them win seven pennants and four World Series championships. It was his big swing that drew fans to the game and boosted the sport’s popularity, he explained.
When he finished, he asked if anyone knew Babe Ruth’s real name. The kids were silent.
“Babe Ruth’s real name was George Herman Ruth. My wife and I named our son after him,” he explained. “Our George loved baseball too”. There was sadness in his eyes when he talked about his son. Most of children didn’t notice, but Timmy did.
Then Mrs. Cunningham reappeared. The kids were fidgeting and she was ready to take them outside to burn off some energy. Before she told them to line up for recess, she said “Did you enjoy hearing about Babe Ruth? Then, let’s all say thank you to Mr. Godfrey for coming to read to you today”.
With excitement in the air, the students began to line up, eager to go play outside for a while.
But Timmy had something else on his mind. He walked over to Mr. Godfrey and asked “Do you want to play catch after school? I think my Momma would let me if you’d come over to my house so she doesn’t think you’re a stranger”.
Mr. Godfrey smiled. As he bent over and looked at the little boy in amazement, his eyes welled up with tears. He thought of his own son, and although the pain was still fresh, he said “Timmy, I’d love to play catch after school. In fact, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do this afternoon”.