May 15, 2009

JUST GET AWAY:

A Young Slugger’s Great Potential and Uncertainties (JOHN BRANCH, 5/15/09, NY Times)

The fans were chanting: “Al-i-bay! Al-i-bay!” It was the bottom of the last inning. The tying run was on base. And, again, Alibay Barkley was right where he wanted to be, holding a bat in his hands and potential in his back pocket.

It seems as if it has always been this way. Barkley was a sweet-faced, oversize kid on a Harlem team that went to the Little League World Series in 2002. Now he is a 6-foot-5, 255-pound high school senior who is being compared to the Phillies’ Ryan Howard, slugging home runs for one of the top teams in New York City and wondering just how far those arcing baseballs can carry him.

The last seven years have not always been kind. Friends in the Bronx have died, his mother and three younger siblings live in a Queens shelter and Barkley skipped school and spent a lost year in Texas unsuccessfully trying to fast-forward his baseball career.

He is home now, planning his latest getaway from New York. For all the time and effort spent getting this far — on the verge of graduation, with the baseball draft a month away and colleges making offers — everything still seems so uncertain.

“All I wanted was to get away from New York,” Barkley, 19, said while sitting in the stands at George Washington High, the hilltop campus in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood with a baseball heritage that stretches from Rod Carew to Manny Ramirez.

“New York is home, but it’s always good to get away from home, understand?” he said. “It’s always good to get away and go somewhere where you don’t have to worry about one of your friends being killed or how your family or your mom is going to eat, or how we’re going to pay the light bill or the rent. Just get away and have fun. And play baseball.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 15, 2009 7:40 AM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MARKET...: | Main | AN OPPORTUNITY TO ESCAPE THE YOKE THAT GENERAL MARSHALL FASHIONED: »