Chase Wright was supposed to be a hero. Now, he’s nothing more than a memory…
No matter how many years pass, I will never forget the look on The Kid’s face.
The anguish. The disgust. The embarrassment. This was not the look of someone who was merely disappointed in himself; this was the look of a kid who knew he was throwing his career away, literally. Within the city of Boston’s fluorescent oasis of emerald, The Kid was enduring his life’s darkest moment. All the years of hard work and training he had put into his craft could not have prepared him for something like this.
Had this been a hospital ward – and not a baseball game – one would presume that The Kid would be begging his nurse to end the suffering. But even as he cowered on the mound, realizing a state of hapless ineptitude for the moment, his manager lacked the humanity to put The Kid out of his misery.
And so the nightmare began. And continued. And continued. And continued one last time. When all was said and done, he had tied the unenviable record for allowing the most consecutive homeruns in baseball history.
He was tall, young, and handsome. Most importantly, he was supposed to be the Yankees’ new white hope.
I wanted to be Chase Wright. The whole world wanted to be Chase Wright.
That is, until the very moment that I, and everyone else watching, wanted nothing to do with being Chase Wright.
I felt pity for The Kid – an entirely unfamiliar sensation. I understood, in theory, how unwarranted it was to give a professional athlete my empathy. After all, why feel any pity for a guy getting paid millions to play baseball for a living?
However, as I watched his eyes grow glassy in front of 36,000 hecklers and five million others on national TV, I could not help but feel his pain. This was not some hero anointing himself as a savior to the Yankees’ season. This was a kid, not much older than my brother, fully exposed to the world as he looked up mercilessly to the sky for an answer on how to get out of the spotlight. The pitcher’s mound was a personal island of doubt, vulnerability, and uncertainty for the future ahead.
This night was supposed to be the best night of Chase Wright, The Kid’s, life. Instead, it became the night that Chase Wright, The Baseball Player, would never live down.
At the outset, his dad was on hand, proudly watching his kid toe the rubber. By the end of the third inning, security guards were escorting him away from the scene of the crime. For all of the wrong reasons, his son had become the biggest laughingstock in the entire city of Boston.
Since the week the Titanic left shore in 1912, Fenway Park has been the preeminent theatre for American culture. And on that particular Sunday night, Fenway’s lead actor — originally cast to play a hero — seamlessly ebbed into a role better scripted for a dunce.
One homerun. Two homeruns. Three homeruns. Four homeruns. In the span of just thirteen pitches, Chase Wright’s confidence had been murdered and his career was effectively over. It was a sight to make even the most helpless baseball romantics feel apologetic for their sport’s occasionally cruel nature.
When all was said and done, The Kid walked as lonely a 100 feet to the dugout as anyone had paced before. Face down. Fighting tears that were hidden by the brim of his cap, Chase Wright delicately limped away from the spotlight and effectively disappeared from my life forever.