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Swing for the Fences (Rob Semple, Contest Winner)

(Publisher’s Note: This article was written by Rob Semple of Ronkonkoma, NY.  He is the winner of Long Island Baseball Magazine’s Spring 2013 writing contest.  Congrats to Rob and the other competitors on a job well done!) 

As a diehard Yankee fan, I’ve been blessed with a lifetime of exhilarating baseball, yet for me, no professional baseball memory compares to what happened in the summer of 1982, down at cozy Hallock Park in Patchogue, N.Y., when I was a twelve year-old little-leaguer. 

Rob Semple is a "diehard yankee fan!" (Courtesy of eyetheticker.com)

Rob Semple is a “diehard yankee fan!” (Courtesy of eyetheticker.com)

With two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning of a late-season game, a man on first, and the score tied at 12, I stepped into the batter’s box and the umpire, on account of darkness, promptly declared, “Last batter.” My father, also the coach, immediately waved me towards him, and thoroughly understanding the situation, whispered forcefully, “Swing for the fences,” before nudging me back to the plate.

To that point, I’d never hit a home-run in organized baseball (and would finish my career with two), but after the first pitch skidded in the dirt, I swung at the second with everything I had, and a few seconds later, watched the ball sail over the center-field fence. I threw both arms up in exuberance and sprinted around the bases, only to be mobbed by my teammates half-way down the third base line, the winning run having already scored.

Still, I didn’t truly feel like a hero until the sun dropped below the horizon. As I giddily congregated with everyone behind the backstop, I espied my younger brother, Gary, then eight, alone on the dusky field, eyes nearly closed and arms thrust skyward, rounding the basing in the same fashion I had fifteen minutes earlier. To this day, that image is etched in my mind.

4 Responses to Swing for the Fences (Rob Semple, Contest Winner)

  • Marion Semple says:

    I admire your writing & especially appreciate the patronage to your dad who was a terrific guy! Thanks for the time & effort to enter the contest. Its nice to recall such a meaningful event, so often we forget the best things in life.

  • Michael Doxsee says:

    As a close friend of the Semple Family I have fond memories of those Little League years, especially the late August Friday night when I called Craig Semple and asked him to go to Shea to see Dwight Gooden pitch. He said I have little league tryouts tonight, come down and help me and then we can go. I did and we got there by the second inning and had the time of our lives.

  • Rob Semple says:

    P.S. I’d like to officially dedicate this story to my father, Craig M. Semple, who coached for over a decade, and was an N.P.M.Y.A.C. league president for a time during the mid ’80’s. Though it’s been more than thirty years in some cases, people still regularly tell me how much he and those little-league years meant to them. Only as an adult did I come to realize how truly generous he was, and while it may be too late, I still feel the need to say “thank you.”

  • Ellen Semple says:

    As the mother of Rob Semple, I remember that game and that home run. I didn’t
    notice Gary running the bases, but I’m glad Rob did. What Rob probably didn’t
    notice was his mother in the stands yelling “That’s my Son!”. Congratulations on
    winning the contest.

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