It’s a fastball. Grady Sizemore swings and misses. The pitcher on the mound is barely in third grade. “He’s throwing me some cheddar down the middle,” Sizemore says with a laugh.
Welcome to Direct Energy’s Backyard Challenge at Bill and Linda Fogle’s Westlake home. More than 3,500 people entered a sweepstakes promising a game of Wiffle ball with the Tribe’s all-star center fielder and self-professed “big kid,” but it’s Bobby, Eric and Tommy Fogle who won the bragging rights.
“At first I didn’t believe my parents when they told me,” 8-year-old Bobby says. “But why would they lie about this?”
More than two dozen kids wait to field Sizemore’s hit, most of them wearing Tribe jerseys with No. 24 on the back. Family, friends and even two game-crashing middle-aged women from Sandusky — super fans who drove around Westlake until they found the game — watch the mid-August action unfold.
After managing to hit a few foul tips, Sizemore decides to take his chances pitching. Bobby Fogle swings at a low one and sends it flying into left field. It’s an inside-the-yard home run.
Kids and parents cheer. “My job’s in jeopardy,” Sizemore says. Bobby is all adrenaline, and he’s not looking to replace his idol any time soon. “I couldn’t sleep last night,” he says. “It was one of the best days of my life — better than Santa.”