|Everyone in Appleton knows baseball. It’s the home of the minor-league Timber Rattlers. It’s also the home town of Major League batting champion Rosario (Rosie) Romano. Rosie didn’t stay in New York after he retired, either. “Nope,” said Gunther Hilt at his barber shop, full of folks on a warm Saturday morning and not one of them there for a haircut. “Came right home, he did.”
Out at City Park, the Little League diamond sits on a hill, overlooking the duck pond. Today, the Yanks were playing the D’backs, and the Yanks’ leading hitter, Brandon Romano, son of the Major League batting champion, was in a slide, 0 for 8 in his last two games. He was slumped at the end of the bench. Everyone stayed away.
Rosie Romano climbed down from the bleachers, entered the Yanks’ dugout, and said quietly to the manager, “Mind if I talk to him, Fitz?” Fitz Conner gestured with an open palm to the end of the bench. Rosie sat next to his son. “I’ve noticed you’ve been extending your elbows,” he said.
Brandon glared at his father. “Nobody asked for your opinion,” he shot back.
“That’s true,” said Rosie, and returned to the bleachers.
At his next at-bat, last chance for the Yanks, down by a run, two out and a man on, Brandon dug his elbows into his waist and sent the next pitch, a low curve, flying almost out to the duck pond.
Brandon was mobbed at the plate by his teammates. They flowed into the dugout, a torrent of delirium. Waves of outstretched pounding palms forced Brandon’s head down, but he twisted around toward the bleachers, pushed his hand up, and touched the bill of his helmet. In the stands, the Major League batting champion knew who it was for.
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