Blackballed

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

This story is not exaggerated, it is just how I remember it. However, in my 9-year-old mind’s eye it gets more frightening with each retelling.


It was a typical day on the playground, a day just like any other day. St. Martha's schoolyard was a bustling place at recess, kids darting every which way, playing games. We never had to worry about getting grass stains on our clothes, because like a Joni Mitchell said

They paved paradise, put up a parking lot, we even had gutters along the curb.


So just another beautiful Spring day, except for this mysterious, 8-pound, solid rubber ball. A sinister shade of Black, a little wear and tear, but, still harmless, right?


My friend Chet had picked it up on his way to school. I think he "found" it in a local sand pit strewn with heavy construction equipment. You know, the kind with that inviting No Trespassing sign.

It was about the size of a large softball, and the extraordinary characteristic of this black ball was that it bounced high, with a vengeance.

Like a super ball on steroids.

One of us got the bright idea to try and shoot baskets with the black ball.

No one could reach the backboard, much less the hoop, but we tried. We were 9and 10-year-old boys with pencil thin arms trying to heave the ball like a shotput.

I took aim at the basket and heaved the ball. It arced through the air and fell to the ground. Total air-ball!


Here's where things went horribly wrong.

Butch G. was running under the basket, just as the ball bounced. The black ball struck Butch's jaw like an Ernie Shavers upper cut. Butch went down. He was motionless.

Being a good, fearful, Catholic school boy, the guilt set in immediately.


Brrinnng! Recess was over. Everybody scampered for safety, and I returned to my classroom in the basement. What was a kid to do? I couldn't think straight.


Moments later, there was an ambulance siren outside the classroom.


Danny H. leaned over to me and whispered over the back of his hand, "You killed him, he's dead."

What if he was right? My head was spinning.

Next thing I know, Sister Mary Kenneth, the principal, AKA, Big Ken the Warden, showed up at my classroom door. She ask for me.

Good catholic kids always told the truth, so you know everybody ratted me out.

I got up and began shuffling toward the door, like a condemned man going to the gallows. All Sr. Mary Kenneth said was "Follow me."


My only hope now was for a divine intervention by St. Martha, and which ever Saint watched over dummies and murderers. Only they could save me now.


We climbed the stairs and entered Butch's classroom. Butch was standing there, yes he had risen, with an ice pack on his jaw. Sr. Mary Kenneth said, "Now Mark, tell Butch you're sorry." And that is just what I did!

Boy, oh boy was I. Really sorry.