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A crowd forms near the baseball practice field at Gardner Edgerton High. People have gathered to watch Bubba.
Some of the bystanders lean against the bleachers; another stands near the dugout. An old man pets a small dog and talks about how he had nothing better to do, so he figured he’d come see the kid they’re all talking about.
Some say Bubba Starling can run a 4.3-second 40-yard dash and throw a football 50 yards from his knees. He’s signed to play quarterback at Nebraska, and he plans to play baseball in Lincoln, too. On the basketball court, he can shoot the three-pointer and dunk over most anyone. And if he ran track, the Blazers probably would win state this year.
He’s 6-foot-5 and 193 pounds, and if you haven’t seen him hit a baseball, stand here, boy, and watch them fly — because it’ll change the way you think about youth’s potential. They say this is the sport that will someday make him a millionaire. Maybe someday soon.
A few days earlier, the school’s baseball coach, Jerald Van Rheen stood in the wind. Are the stories true? Can Bubba really hit one that far?
“On a day like today?” Van Rheen said then. “He’d hit it, oh, 550 feet.”
He wasn’t smiling. There was no punch line coming.
“Seriously,” he said. “The legend and the reality are the same.”
The pitch comes, and Bubba swings. The ball clangs off a light pole, high above the 354-foot sign in left-center field. A few minutes later, he hits three in a row over the fence.
Some of the onlookers shake their heads. Others chuckle. This is greatness on the small stage — Bogart in the community theater, Picasso painting in the park. This is Bubba Starling, artist of the Great Plains, decorating West Madison Avenue with baseballs.
Its either go straight to MLB and make millions or play football for the cornhuskers. Not even that tough of a decision. MLB draft is predicting Starling will not go below #3 on the draft pick