Growing up in the shadow of his father (his small town's biggest sports hero), Willie Weaver has one last chance to become a hero in his own right during a championship baseball game. In front of his dad, his girl, and most of the town, Willie makes a miracle catch and brings home the championship. It is his greatest moment in a life that has been mostly free of pain, except for the sudden death of his infant sister. Soon after the championship, however, his dream life is shattered during a water skiing accident. The injuries from this accident affect his coordination, his communication, but mostly his self-esteem. He feels that he has failed his family and runs off one night without telling anyone. He lands on the tough streets of Oakland, where a street gang attacks him. A bus driver, Lacey, rescues him from both the gang and his spinning- out-of-control life by enrolling him in an alternative school called One More Last Chance High School (OMLC). At the school, Willie starts his road to rehabilitation through basketball, tai chi, and the support of teachers and other students. His return home to Coho turns out nothing as he had expected. He finds upon his return that his parents are divorced, his father is bitter and angry, and his friends are still unsure how to relate to him, although he better understands how to relate to himself.
(The entire section is 237 words.)
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The Championship Game
The Crazy Horse Electric Game by Chris Crutcher begins with Willie Weaver, the star pitcher for Coho, Montana’s local baseball team, preparing to play the most important game of his life. Willie is blessed with a golden arm that earns him legend-like status among his friends and family, and he knows that winning the game for his team, Samson Floral, rests entirely on his shoulders. However, Willie’s got the confidence to know that when he’s on, nobody can touch his fastball. The whole town of Coho is counting on Willie to bring in their very first championship trophy, especially Willie’s father, Big Will, who seems to be living vicariously through his son’s sports triumphs and failures. Big Will’s claim to fame was playing football in the ’60s for the University of Washington and winning the Rose Bowl. Despite the fact that Willie knows his dad is proud of him, father and son have never been able to achieve any significant emotional connection.
On the day of the big game, Willie is on fire; no batter has reached second base, and Samson Floral is ahead 1–0 in the seventh inning. By the bottom on the ninth, however, Willie makes his first mistake of the game, putting the tying run on first just before the opposing team’s big hitter steps up to the plate. When the next pitch is thrown, Willie loses his balance as the ball is hit hard toward third base. Miraculously, Willie catches the line drive on...
(The entire section is 1353 words.)