Inman. You'll see him on the cover of Sports
Illustrated one day. But you read about this
Danville pitching prodigy in this column first.
the House of Delegates lurching from absurdity to
absurdity Tuesday in some exasperating effort to
find, really, a reason for being, I decided to do
what more political junkies ought to do from time to
obsessing about this idiocy in Richmond
and go to a baseball game.
afternoon was sunny, but cool and crisp, as early
spring afternoons are apt to be here in western Virginia. Skies were
high and bright, bright blue.
The field was beautiful.
The grass was newly cut.
The infield was manicured.
The lines were bright and clean.
last time I was at a baseball game was probably
thirty years ago. I
am not passionate about baseball.
I did play the game as a kid, but not very
did see Hank Aaron homer one time in Atlanta.
my sister has told me about this kid from Danville, a pitcher for Tunstall
High School, who maybe wants to play baseball at Duke.
She knows his folks.
And will I maybe write a letter of
recommendation for him?
And, by the way, Tunstall is playing Patrick
County Tuesday afternoon in Stuart.
okay, I’ll go. I’ll
watch an inning or two, write the kid a letter, and
that will be the end of that.
are maybe three dozen spectators at the game.
You can visualize it.
Lawn chairs. Blankets.
A few kids. Two
or three obvious girlfriends.
One or two old timers still longing for their
long gone playing days.
A young boxer puppy, with newly trimmed ears,
sporting a garish, lamp-shade-looking thing taped to
the top of his head.
a kid named Will Inman.
his name. You
don’t know it now, but you’re going to.
You’re going to see it lots of times.
And you’re going to see him.
On magazine covers. And
doing commercials. And
God knows where else before this is all over.
if you follow baseball, you can write this down:
you’re going to see him start, and win, in
the World Series.
don’t know anything about baseball, but I’ll
take bets on this one.
And, no, I won’t be writing the letter.
Nobody’s going to require one.
It would be as presumptuous as recommending
Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods.
Besides, coaches have been tailing him for
from Duke and Virginia Tech were watching Tuesday.
only thing that will keep this kid out of a major
college career will be how high he goes in the
baseball draft next year.
Inman is a junior in high school.
Nobody — coaches, scouts, nobody — can
talk to him yet, not even so much as to say
kid faced 21 batters Tuesday afternoon here in
Stuart — and struck out 18 of them, most on three
pitches, 90 mile-an-hour-plus fast balls, and curve
balls that are scary, that defy the laws of physics.
three games this year he has 47 strike-outs.
He broke Tunstall’s all-time career
strike-out record as a sophomore, the same year he
was district and regional Player of the Year, and
was named First Team, All
State in Virginia.
he hit two home runs here Tuesday — one a
grand-slammer — straight shots that went out at
the 340 ft. marker in center field.
I mention that Will Inman is a junior in high
course there is a downside to having a kid like this
pitch for you. Your
fielders don’t get much practice.
Mostly, they just stand around and watch the
else to do.
Head Coach Barry Shelton concedes the problem:
“You know, we’ve talked about that.
When he’s striking out two-thirds of the
batters he’s facing, our defense kinda gets lulled
to sleep and so they’re kinda shocked when
somebody does hit one.
We work extra at practices giving our
fielders experience they don’t get in the games
is a downside, too, of having a kid like this pitch
against you, but no need to belabor that, other than
this: Most of
kids had never seen pitches like that—and still
one of Patrick’s coaches:
“This kid’s the real deal.
He dominates the game.
Him and a catcher can beat you.”
is no slouch team. Patrick
won the game before this one 15-0.
was the score here Tuesday?
was the score in Richmond? Doesn’t
really matter, does it?
April 12, 2004