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One Shot At Forever
Transcript of One Shot At Forever
One Shot At Forever is about a small town in Illinois that unexpectedly got a shot at playing in the baseball state tournament. Macon, Illinois used to just be a dot on a map. It had no importance, no purpose until an unfamiliar man named Lynn Sweet moved there for a job opportunity in 1970. Sweet was an English teacher, but he had his own ways of teaching. He didn’t like to be called “Mr. Sweet”, he only liked “Sweet”. He also never forced the kids to do anything they didn’t want to, he had them do weird assignments that they all seemed to enjoy, unknowingly. Though everyone was against it, Sweet taught his own way and it worked. One of parents of a student he had came up to him one day and asked him to be the baseball coach, saying his son will only play if he was the coach. And believe it or not, Sweet agreed. Just like in the classroom, Sweet coached the way he would teach students. He never force them to practice. To him, practice was optional and gave the players the choice on everything. They coached themselves, in a sense, but he did it for a good reason. He wanted them to show responsibility. Sweet wanted them to be more fluent on the field, and to make the right decisions that they felt necessary. Surprisingly, the team took that in and used it well. The season record for ‘70 was by far the best record they had in the longest time, helping them get to the regional finals. But one man was out for them, and it was their Principal McClard. He got them disqualified from the regionals for “playing with an illegal player”. At that moment, their season ended. But the team didn’t let it get to them, they used it to prepare for the next year’s season.
Season of 1971 came around and they were better than ever.They got all the way to the state championships. They surprised every team they went against. Because it is not always about how hard and good you can play, it’s about the heart you put behind it that helps you through it all. They lost the state championships, unfortunately, but to be a small town high school in the state championships is a huge accomplishment, especially for Macon High. Forty years later, Steve Shartzer, one of the best players, still holds a grudge on the fact that they lost. He can’t let that go, so he stays away from Macon. Sweet retired after a while, stating that it wasn’t fun anymore, that teaching and coaching have become agonizing jobs for him. They all keep the memories of the seasons in their hearts, even if Macon doesn’t keep them in the town. A book about a small town, an aspiring dream, and great hearts has given an inspirational motivation around the world.
Never Give Up
This book targets an audience of people who don’t think the impossible is possible. It targets that audience because if they read the book, their minds would change. I never thought that a small town like that, a high school with no baseball funding, could get all the way to the state championship. If you are a baseball lover, this book would show you that baseball goes past the sport. It goes into the heart and soul of the players, it comes from within them. Other athletes would enjoy this book because it shows that you should never give up, because if you do, your dream will be shattered. They would see the book as a message to others, that giving up isn’t an option. To succeed in life, you need to work hard, even if you have nothing or no one to support you. This book is targeted more towards teenagers and adults, but any athlete around would enjoy the sense of motivation and aspiration the book sends out.
Steve was a trouble maker. Throwing tomatoes off bridges to hit cars and letting a local farmer’s pigs out and bringing them all around town is just some of the things he would do. Except, Steve was very conscience about sports. He thought they were the most important thing in his life. He took sports seriously. Being the fastest kid in the county, he was the runningback for the football team. He was the star on the basketball team and the star pitcher for the baseball team. He broke up with his girlfriend because sports are more important to him than anything else. Shartzer, nicknamed Shark, was a strong-armed third baseman, a talented hitter, and a great pitcher. Even forty years after losing the championship game, Shartzer still holds a grudge.
“But it really wasn’t that. By most accounts Shartzer had the talent but might have cared too much. To him, the game was sacred. What he couldn’t overcome was the idea that when he came to the park every day, he was arriving at his job. He was a commodity being paid for his talents, surrounded by other commodities, some of whom didn't care about any one game or the team. He was supposed to pace himself, to think about long term. To look out for number one. He couldn't do it” (Ballard 218).
Steve Shartzer loved the game. He cherished the game of baseball. He wanted it to be his life, to be able to play baseball every day. Except, once it became his job, once he started getting paid for it, it became stressful for him. He became a commodity, the team was selling him now. And he played with other teammates that didn’t care for the game or for the team, all they cared about was the money they were receiving. He didn’t like that. He rather it be like it used to be in high school, playing for the love of the game, rather than the love of the money. He tried to think long term for baseball, he tried to push himself, but he couldn’t see himself as a commodity anymore. So he left.
This theme is illustrated throughout this whole book. In the beginning, the team had five old bats, which were on the verge of breaking, and really old uniforms that barely matched. The principal didn’t fund the team and no one believed the team would go far anyways. But, the players took the team seriously. They tried their hardest, they played each game to their full potential and it paid off for them. The 1970 season, they went to regionals but then got disqualified. Except, that never stopped them, it just pushed them harder. In 1971, they went all the way to the state championship. Though they lost, they gave a name to Macon. They finally did something the town can cherish. If the team gave up, this book would never have been written. But they didn’t and they showed everyone that they are good, and they can be on the same level as everyone else.
John was a scrawny kid with aspirations to pitch. He wasn’t the fastest pitcher but even though his fastball was slow, his curveball was wicked. It snapped at the perfect time that he struck out many players with the slow curve. He usually got down on himself in the first couple innings but was able to pick himself back up. It was the help of him and Shartzer that they could make it to regionals one year and the state championship the next. John Heneberry and Mark Miller were really good friends, they would go catfishing a lot. And even though it wasn’t a competition, they would silently keep track of how big the fish was just for records.
An English teacher, radicalist, Lynn was twenty four years old when he started teaching at Macon High School. Never intended on becoming the baseball coach. Father was a military man, but he was nothing like him. When he first started teaching, he was clean cut, with short dark hair with a wide face, hazel eyes, thick eyebrows, and long eyelashes. He was a funny man and a great listener, which made him irresistible to women. All the kids loved him, he was so well liked and he was one of the only teachers at Macon that was able to keep the kids calm and collective. He taught in his own way, he didn’t follow any curriculum. He started to grow out his beard and hair, but was still irresistible. He started dating Jeanne Jesse, and eventually married her and had two daughters. On the field, he coached the way he teached. He didn’t force the boys to do anything they didn’t want to do. He let them figure it out themselves, to prepare them for how life really is. He brought them to the regionals in 1970 and to the state championships in 1971. He was well respected but after a while, he retired from coaching baseball.
Dale Otta was the shortstop for the team. He was tall, thin, and light on his feet. He was one of their best hitters and had one of the best arms of the team. He was the kid that kept the team serious while not being too overbearing. He was also the tight end on the football team and the small forward for the basketball team. Dale Otta was able to break a pitcher’s spell if Macon was going downhill. Forty years later and Dale Otta rarely returns back to Macon, even though he could drive to town in under five minutes.
Although Dale Otta’s twin, Dean Otta is completely different. Dean was the catcher, but not a normal catcher as Sweet thought. Dean possessed the power to block and catch almost every single ball. If the ball drifted off the plate too much, he would catch it bare handed. He was thick and imperturbable, being wide and solid with a wedge for a jaw. He was built differently than his brother but still possessed the love for baseball.
Jeff Glan was the first baseman. But he was also only five-foot-seven, and was a singles hitter. He usually threw his head back while running so it looked like his head was about to pop off. He was the best student on the team, and usually quoted philosophy. Jeff Glan was one of the only starting nine that didn’t go off and play baseball in college. He instead got an English degree from Millikin University but then became a contractor for an agribusiness.
A funny, charming, and unusually empathic for a teenager, Mark Miller is a natural leader. Mr. Miller was right, if Sweet became the coach, his son would tryout. Miller is the only kid that could probably keep Shartzer in line. Mark Miller is the second baseman, who had quick feet and a sure glove. Mark Miller used to go fishing with Heneberry all the time, and fell off the grain elevator once.
Stu was a freshmen during 1970, but he had a natural feel for the game. He was the centerfielder and was renowned for getting ungodly jumps on fly balls. he had a killer smile and was the closest to a matinee idol for Macon High. Though just a freshmen, he was asked to prom by the prettiest senior in high school. Arnold attended Millikin and was a three-time All Conference centerfielder. He set a single-season record for punt return yardage and the story went that he tried out for the Dallas Cowboys but didn’t make it. He was supposed to be successful at whatever he did, and he became a stockbroker. Unfortunately one afternoon, Arnold collided head-on with a semi. The impact propelled the steering wheel into his chest and it was over in that moment. Sweet used to say that he was the ‘most graceful person I ever met’, and he died at the age of forty-one.
Brian Snitker was even slower than Glan. Except, he possessed a smooth, natural swing that was powerful. He wore thick black glasses and played right field. At the time of the 1970 season, he was only a freshmen but a good one.
He was the starting pitcher for the 1970 season. Doug Tomlinson was the closest you could get to a star on campus in Macon. He was the starting quarterback, the star on the basketball team, and a member of the National Honor Society. He was the best returning hitter and had an effective curveball and a wicked fastball. He was the tall and handsome kid that got everything so easily, but as the only returner from the 1968 team that won only one game, he felt the weight of the team on his shoulders.
Sam Trusner is a small freshmen who is an energetic but uncoordinated boy. He grew up with all the Macon boys playing sandlot ball. When he grew up, it was clear that he would be a better fit for other things. In eighth grade he became the junior high equipment manager for track. Jack Burns heard of how well he did, that he came all the way to the junior high and asked Sam if he would be the manager for the high school football team that fall. He was then recruited for the basketball team, and that is when he signed up for the baseball team in the spring. Sam Trusner always did things with such enthusiasm.
Bill McClard is the new principal at Macon High School. After Britton moved up to Superintendent, he decided he wanted a principal who would keep the school in check, so he hired McClard. McClard and Sweet never really got along. McClard wouldn’t give funding for the baseball team and he always tried to find ways to destroy Sweet. He threatened to fire him. He disqualified the baseball team in 1970 for “playing with an illegal player”. And he tried to fire Sweet when they talked at a meeting about relieving Sweet as the baseball coach. Fortunately, McClard decided to go back to school and get another degree to get a better job and so he put in his resignation, and then he realized that there is no reason to keep acting how he is towards Sweet. He then started helping Sweet out, by buying brand new bats for them and such.
Mike Atteberry is the left fielder. He is a pudgy-cheeked, oval glasses wearing senior. He is a talented hitter, and was one of the rare athletes that didn’t play multiple sports. He never got into it, because until the summer before senior year, he was still five-foot-one. Finally, after junior year, he spouted six inches.
“To the graduating seniors who watched, some of whom would never see Sweet again, it looked like he was riding a wave of joy toward the stage. So that’s how they remember him now, thrust up in glory, smiling that wild smile, a man carried into the light by a bunch of boys” (Ballard 203).
Lynn Sweet is the most well respected man in Macon, not only by other teachers and parents, but also by the students. They looked up to him, and even Jeff Glan wanted to become a teacher just like Sweet. He wanted to motivate and inspire students like Sweet did. Lynn Sweet was the type of man you would probably stay away from in the 60s and 70s. He was more of a radicalist, but he never showed it. He just helped the kids learn without forcing them to do things they never wanted to do. He inspired the players on the field, he helped them realize what they wanted so bad in life. Lynn Sweet inspired other players from different teams and other coaches. The Lakeland College coach Gene Creek even wanted to recruit Sweet as his assistant coach. Everyone wished they had someone like him in their lives, and when the seniors watched him ride that “wave of joy”, that’s exactly how they decided to remember him: in his true form of happiness.
“Some of the players were oblivious to the power they now wielded; they were teenagers, after all. But not Shartzer. Blessed with talent and confidence, he was also cursed with self-awareness. He understood the stakes. This wasn’t just about teammates and parents anymore. This was about all those folks at the Country Manor. It was about legacy and civic pride. It was about the Scott Taylors.
He didn’t intend to let any of them down” (Ballard 128).
Analysis: Shartzer wasn’t like everyone else. He knew the importance behind this team. He knew that if this team went far, they had a chance to give themselves a name. They weren’t just Macon anymore. They weren’t just a dot on the map, they were much more. They were a small town with a baseball team that has succeeded the bigger power houses of Illinois. He wanted to help Macon, to help the town and the people, and he didn’t want to let anyone down. This wasn’t just about the team, but about the whole town itself. He didn’t want to be like the past teams, he wanted to go to regionals and then states. He thought about the name he and the team could give to this small town that no one knew about. He couldn’t let them down.
Made By: Jazmin Dimalanta