Darren Wieters felt the butterflies in his stomach. The 39 year old had been working toward this moment for his entire career. It was the final game of the season, and Wieters had entered the game with 2994 career hits. The sports world was resigned to the fact that Wieters would have to come back one more year to enter the 3000 hit club.

Wieters privately wondered if his body could take another year of abuse. His left knee would need to be scoped in the off-season, and the shoulder needed the cortisone shots more frequently in recent years. Another regimen of off-season workouts, just to stay in shape for a handful of hits next year. That did not sound like much fun at all – but it was the price of greatness.

Wieters had left off the game with a single. Another single in the third, a double in the fifth, a double in the sixth, and yet another single in the eighth had put him on the cusp of history. He had five hits in five at bats, pushing his career hits total to 2999 – the brink of immortality.

Wieters watched Sean Graham line out hard to the third baseman for the first out of the inning. Wieters collected himself, took a deep breath, and took the short walk toward the batter’s box.

“Go get ’em, Dee Dub” yelled Graham. Wieters nodded absently, lost in his thoughts.

The flashbulbs around the park lit up the darkness. Every fan in the stands knew the importance of this moment. Just one more hit would stamp Wieters’ ticket to the Hall of Fame. Any hit would do – an infield single or a home run – it didn’t make a difference. Another hit would also give Wieters a rare six hit game – and make him the first to ever reach the 3000 hit plateau with a six hit game.

The opposition, however, was not going to simply roll over. Especially not in a tie game. The Dragons pitching coach jogged out to the mound and signaled for a lefty to come in to face Wieters.

Wieters took some unhappy practice swings – annoyed not only by the prospect of an unfavorable lefty-lefty match-up, but also with the delay in the action.

Finally, the southpaw finished his warm-up pitches and toed the rubber. Wieters dug in at the plate. Wieters knew that this guy would try to get him to expand his strike zone, so he watched the mid-90s fastball go – barely missing the plate.

The next pitch got more of the plate than the pitcher had planned, and Wieters drove the ball toward deep center field. The crowd roared when they realized that the ball was going to fall in for a hit. Wieters felt the presence of first base under his feet – his #3000! He never broke his stride and raced toward second. As he neared the bag, the third base coach was giving him the stop sign, but Wieters knew he could beat the throw. He kicked it into high gear and roared toward third base. He would become only the second player to enter the 3000 hit club with a triple!

He lost his footing as he approached third base. He stumbled, then fell – but his momentum was still propelling him toward the bag. He reached for the base. Yes – his hand was in before the tag!

“OUT!” roared the ump.

Wieters jump up in protest. The blind bat had missed the call. A piece of history, and he had just blown the call. Wieters was fuming and gave the the man in blue a piece of his mind.

“Yer outta here” yelled Blue when he finally lose patience with Weiters, ejecting the future Hall of Famer from his final game. Wieters shared a few more choice words before retreated toward the dugout. As he approached, Sean Graham tossed him a ball. Wieters grabbed it angrily and hurled it into the stands. He grabbed a bat and began a vicious assault on the water cooler.

It took Darren Wieters a moment to realize that Graham has tossed him the ball from his 3000th hit – and that in his anger he had discarded it like a piece of trash.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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