Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Part 1
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||high interest, readability grades 3 to 5
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||cope, declaration, dummy, hurtful, mainstreamed, milestone, no-look, slam-dunked, Well-open, equally, tingly, easily, natural, hearing, reading, scholarship
||For Robert, American Sign Language, Billy Hoy, Kansas City Royals, All American, Brown University, Ivy League
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Take Me Out to the Ball Game, Part 1
By Toni Lee Robinson
1 Robert hefted the bat. He swung again and again. There was a wonderful tingly stretch in his muscles. His body felt fluid and light with energy. He felt like he could fly! His dream was about to come true. For several years he had played with minor league teams. Today he would play his first major league game.
2 The majors were a milestone for any player. For Robert, it was like belting a homer to the moon. Robert had been born with almost no sense of hearing. In some ways, life had been harder for him than for other kids. He had to learn different ways to communicate. He learned American Sign Language. He could talk with his hands.
3 His parents had insisted that Robert learn oral speech as well. For most of his life, he had gone to two different schools. His first years were spent at a school for the deaf. Then he had "mainstreamed" to a public school for part of the day. He also spent extra hours each day at the school for the deaf.
4 Most days, Robert didn't mind the work. He was smart, his teachers said, a quick learner. But because he could hear very little, he struggled with speech. His hearing aids didn't help much. Sometimes kids made fun of him because he spoke differently. Robert was bewildered. "Why?" he asked his parents. "Why do they want to hurt me?"
5 Robert's mother put an arm around her son. "Mean people feel small inside," she told him. "They want to make you feel the same. Don't let them do it. Don't let them make you mean like they are. Above all, don't let them stop you from doing what you want to do." His family helped him cope with the teasing. Older brother Roy stood up for him. Roy wouldn't let other kids push Robert around.
6 What Robert loved most of all was sports. At age five, he had played his first T-ball game. When it was over, he made a declaration. "I'm going to play baseball when I grow up," he said. Robert worked equally hard at school and sports. Both would be important in making his dream come true. He remembered what his mother had said. He was determined that no one would keep him from doing what he wanted to do.
7 As he got older, Robert did well in school. He got good grades in both schools. He learned to speak. He still liked sign language best. Signing seemed a much more natural and easy way to talk and "listen." But he could manage in the hearing world as well. He became an expert at reading lips.
8 Robert found that there had been other professional ball players who were deaf. He became a big fan of Billy Hoy. Hoy played for several teams in the late 1800s. One day Hoy had thrown out three runners at home from center field. Robert marveled. To this day, only two other players have done that. Hoy could neither hear nor speak. He was known as "Dummy" Hoy. Robert's father explained that the hurtful name was often given to those who couldn't speak. The word "dumb," he said, really meant mute or unable to speak.
9 Robert also loved to watch the big teams play. Several times a year, he went with his father to see the nearby Kansas City Royals. Each time he became more certain. He was going to be a baseball player!
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