No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Barnie Day



Remember this Name


Will 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.


With 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 time:  Stop obsessing about this idiocy in Richmond and go to a baseball game.


The 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.


The 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 well  I did see Hank Aaron homer one time in Atlanta. 


But 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.


So, okay, I’ll go. I’ll watch an inning or two, write the kid a letter, and that will be the end of that.


There are maybe three dozen spectators at the game. You can visualize it. Lawn chairs. Blankets.  Mostly parents. 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. 


And a kid named Will Inman. 


Remember 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.


And if you follow baseball, you can write this down: you’re going to see him start, and win, in the World Series.


I 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 years. Representatives from Duke and Virginia Tech were watching Tuesday. 


The 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. That’s right. Next year. 


Will Inman is a junior in high school. Nobody — coaches, scouts, nobody — can talk to him yet, not even so much as to say “hello.”


This 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.


In 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. 


And he hit two home runs here Tuesday — one a grand-slammer — straight shots that went out at the 340 ft. marker in center field. 


Did I mention that Will Inman is a junior in high school?


Of 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 show.  Nothing else to do.


Tunstall 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 sometimes.”    


There is a downside, too, of having a kid like this pitch against you, but no need to belabor that, other than this: Most of the Patrick County kids had never seen pitches like that—and still haven’t. 


Says one of Patrick’s coaches: “This kid’s the real deal.  He dominates the game. Him and a catcher can beat you.”


And Patrick County is no slouch team. Patrick won the game before this one 15-0.


What was the score here Tuesday? Tunstall, 12-1.


What was the score in Richmond? Doesn’t really matter, does it?


-- April 12, 2004


























Contact Information


Barnie Day

604 Braswell Drive
Meadows of Dan, VA