Ah, April, the sweetest time of year. Spring yawns and stretches. Birds - such as Orioles, Blue Jays and Cardinals - migrate north.
And we Charlie Browns of this world believe that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year we finally clobber one over the fence.
Hope springs eternal.
I was Charlie Brown, the kid picked last every recess. I was the guy no one guarded. No need.
During a football game at Monroe Elementary, I ran downfield and set up beside the big oak tree marking the end zone. Classmates swirled in twos and threes, swarming toward the left. I stood still on the right.
Mr. Laughlin, playing all-time quarterback, spotted me watching the game from the shade of the tree. He locked eyes on mine. And threw.
Oh, my! Oh, my! Oh, my! Wide open. Perfect spiral. Classmates mad-dashing. Too late. All mine. My first ever catch would be a touchdown! Arms outstretched...
And ... I ducked.
The ball sailed harmlessly over my head. The guys on the other team jeered. The guys on my team invited me to play dollies with the girls. Now.
Still, hope sprang eternal.
I laced up sneakers for eighth and ninth grade basketball at Rowe Junior High School. Any time someone tossed me the ball out of desperation, I panicked. No matter where I stood on the court, I heaved it hoopward - and missed widely. Coaches did not leave me in games very long.
On one of those occasions, a kid named Scott ran in to replace me. He couldn't. I'd been fouled. Scott turned to Coach. ''What do I do?'' Coach groaned. He had to let me shoot the free throw. It was in the rules.
I bounced the ball. Dipped my knees. Shoved a shot into the air. The ball WENT IN THE HOOP! Our bench whooped. Coach clutched his chest. Someone left to buy lottery tickets.
It was the only point I scored in any organized league - ever.
Hope sprang eternal that there'd be another someday.
I loved baseball. I just couldn't play it. Fly balls overshot me. Grounders zipped between my legs. My throws to first ended up in the cornfield next to the school diamond. I was in fifth grade before one of my swishes and swats accidentally connected with a baseball.
By the time I made it to my mid-20s, my coordination increased to that of a 6-year-old. In picnic softball games, I began clanking grounders all the way to second base with regularity. Sometimes the ball rolled into what, technically, was the outfield.
I held hope.
One day it happened. I was 40. A church picnic in early spring in Perkins Park. I stepped to the plate. Took a practice swing. The bat snapped quickly. Sharply. I dug in. The ball came. Fat and wide. I swung low. And connected. The ball felt soft against the bat. No hand-jarring vibration. Just a sweet-spot ''poomf.'' The ball took off like a rocket!
It landed beyond the worn lines in the outfield where the city would put up the fences for the summer in another week.
Would the ball have cleared had the fence been there? Maybe. Maybe not.
I choose to think yes. Even Charlie Brown deserves one.
Hope springs eternal.
----- Catch the dreamer at the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.