Billy’s Second Chance

“Billy’s Second Chance,” Friend, June 1972, 16

Billy’s Second Chance

Billy knew if he could ever win the permanent position as center fielder for the Highland Lake Tigers, he would have to prove himself now. Hermie had just walloped the ball, and it was sailing straight for center field.

Billy could not take his eyes off the white ball. He knew that with his poor eyesight if he looked away for even an instant, he might not be able to again locate the ball in time. Billy also knew that if he would only put on his new glasses, he could see perfectly. But he wasn’t going to give his teammates a chance to call him “four-eyes.” No sir! Those glasses were going to stay under the socks in his dresser drawer for the whole summer vacation.

The ball was dropping fast now, and as Billy ran toward it with his outstretched arms, he ran smack into Marty. The collision left both Billy and Marty sprawled on the grass with the ball on the ground between them. Billy jumped to his feet, but he was too late. Hermie was on third!

“Oh, Billy!” groaned Marty, “What’s the matter with you? You’d think I was invisible the way you ran into me.”

Billy muttered something under his breath about the accident being Marty’s fault. But Billy knew who was at fault. He should have seen Marty standing there! After all, Marty was the tallest boy on the team this year.

When the game was over, Billy walked over to watch Mr. Francers, who was busily sanding the weathered bottom of his boat. Billy sat down dejectedly on a pile of old lumber.

“Well, that was a bit of bad luck you had out there, Billy,” Mr. Francers sympathized.

“I guess so,” sighed Billy. “I sure missed that ball.”

“But you didn’t miss Marty!” chuckled Mr. Francers. “When you arrived last week and I helped your family unload the station wagon, didn’t I see you wearing a pair of glasses?”

“I guess so,” admitted Billy. Then he told Mr. Francers how he was afraid the other boys would laugh at him, and so he had decided to keep his glasses in a drawer all summer.

“I know just how you feel, Billy,” Mr. Francers smiled. “I began wearing glasses when I was younger than you, and I must admit they were a nuisance.”

Mr. Francers paused for a minute as if he were remembering something, and then he continued, “It’s a funny thing, Billy, but I tried to get by without wearing my glasses just like you’re doing. Then one day when I was playing baseball, I looked around at my teammates and realized that baseball is a true team sport! I expected the best from each of my teammates. But there was one boy on the team who was not giving his very best—me! From that day on I always wore my glasses. I’m sure if I hadn’t, my baseball career would have gone no further than those sandlot games.”

“Did you play professional baseball?” gasped Billy.

“Yes, fifteen years in the major leagues—and I loved every minute of it!”

“Wow!” cried Billy, jumping up. “I didn’t know that!” Billy hesitated and then added, “I just remembered something I left at the cottage. I’ll see you later.”

As the afternoon breezes began picking up off the lake and small clouds of dust swirled around homeplate, Billy was given another chance at center field. But Billy knew that this time it was going to be different—he would be doing his best. He was being honest with his teammates and honest with himself. Billy could see this fact quite easily now—especially with his new glasses!

Illustrated by Phyllis Luch