Loyal – A Scout is true to his family, friends, Scout leaders, school, nation, and world community.
Tad loves his baseball team, and has never missed a game. Then Tad is asked to leave his buddies and join a team that is playing for the championship. What should Tad do?
“Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate, the Rangers!” Tad’s baseball team, Tom’s Tire Shop Titans, threw their hands into the air with a final cheer and went across the field to congratulate the Rangers on their win. In spite of Tad’s home run and Conner’s awesome double play at second base, the Titans were defeated 9-3.
After a quick team meeting with Coach Westin, Tad ran across the field to catch up with his dad and mom. “You smacked that ball to the fence! I’ll bet that felt amazing,” Tad’s mom and dad were talking at the same time, and it was hard to tell who said what.
“Yeah, it felt great. I knew when I connected that it was really sailing. Did you see Conner catch that fly, and Wyatt’s slide at home?” Being on the same team as your best friends took the sting out of losing. Well, mostly.
Conner came running, yelling, “Wait up, Tad.” Out of breath, Conner had to stop a minute before he puffed out, “Did you hear those Rangers bragging? They’re going to the big championship game.” Conner huffed out his news in a sing-song voice. “We’re going to be the town champs,” he mocked. “More like the town chimps, if you ask me.” Tad and Conner made monkey noises while scratching under their arms.
“Now, boys, let’s be good sports about this. Where to for supper?” Mr. Cartwright asked.
“Magic Carpet Pizza!” they chorused, just like he knew they would.
“Sure you don’t want to go to Old Henry’s tonight? Tonight’s special is liver and onions.” Tad and Conner both grabbed their stomachs in a pretend stomach ache.
“No way,” they yelled.
“How about the Blue Jasmine Teapot? We could have cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off.”
“Ewwww, gross!” They continued making noises over suggestions for other restaurants all the way to Magic Carpet.
“Oh, man, look who’s here,” Tad groaned. “The Rangers are hogging our spot. Why couldn’t they go to Old Henry’s?”
“Boys, remember what we said about being good sports. No trash talking in the restaurant. Understood?” Mr. Cartwright used his ‘I mean business’ voice.
“Oh, alright,” both boys answered, looking down at their baseball shoes.
When Mom called them in to eat, Tad said, “What the heck?” as he rounded the corner to where they were sitting. “What are my folks doing sitting with the Rangers coach?”
When Tad’s dad caught sight of him, he said, “Tad, come over here, son. Mr. Whitestone would like to talk to you.”
Tad approached the table like he was headed to the principal’s office. “Yeah, Dad?”
“Young man, you played a fine game today,“ Mr. Whitestone began. “How would you like to play for the Rangers?”
It could never be good news when an adult started a conversation by calling you ‘young man’.
“Don’t you have a full team already?” Tad asked. “Besides, I’m a Titan,” Tad said proudly.
“Tad, let Mr. Whitestone talk,” said Dad, with another one of those ‘I mean business’ looks.
“Well, Tad, a couple of our players are moving out of the district. I’ve been given special permission to recruit a couple of players from other teams so we can field a full roster. I’d like to offer you a spot on the Rangers when we play for the championship.”
“This would be a great opportunity for you, son,” said Dad.
“We need to fill a couple of spots, so we are also talking to Wyatt’s folks. Well, son, what do you say? Want to be a Ranger for a few days?” said Mr. Whitestone.
A big lump formed in his throat, like when he was about to cry. Tad’s dad saw the look on his face, and kept him from having to answer. Dad said, “Well, Roger, that’s a lot to think about. We need to check the calendar and talk a little bit. How ‘bout I give you a call tomorrow?”
After a lot of hand shaking and talking about the weather, they finally got out of there. Tad went to look for Conner so they could leave.
“Hey, what was the big pow wow with the Ranger coach about, Tad?” Conner asked.
“My dad said to cash in our tickets,” Tad said, pretending to count tickets so he didn’t have to look Conner in the face. “How many did you rack up while I was out of the room?”
After trading in their tickets for some vampire teeth and fake blood, the boys went to the car. It was a long, uncomfortable ride home. As hard as he tried, Tad couldn’t think of a single thing to say. That lump in his throat had never quite eased up.
After dropping Conner off, Dad said, “Okay, out with it, Tad-o. You obviously don’t like this idea. What is bothering you?”
“Dad, what am I going to tell the guys? We swore vengeance on the Rangers; and now you want me to BE one?“ Tad’s voice quivered with the built-up emotion.
“Son, this is a chance for you to improve your skills with some top-notch players. Think about this. Your teams are going change over and over again. But your loyalty to your friends will be there as long as you want it to be,” Dad said. “At least think about it. If you decide to do it, I promise I’ll square it with the guys.”
The next morning, Tad sat at the table drawing circles in his cereal. “I thought about it a lot last night, Dad. If you and Mom think it’s a good idea, I guess I’ll give it a try.” As soon as he said the words, he felt the knot in his throat tighten up again. “As long as I can bail if it just gets too weird.”
“Absolutely. I’ll call Roger and find out about practice. Thanks for giving it a try, son,” Dad said.
Over the next two weeks, Tad didn’t have to worry about how to act around Conner and the guys, because he rarely saw them. Coach Whitestone called practice nearly every day after school to get ready for the play-offs. Suddenly, it was game day. As far as Tad could tell, Dad hadn’t done one single thing about the Titans.
They got to the dugout, and Tad drug his feet like he did when they called his name at the dentist’s office. Just as he suspected, Coach Whitestone was waiting with Ranger shirts. Tad hesitated a moment, then pulled the Ranger shirt on over his Titan shirt. At least he could be a Titan underneath, where it really counted. Then Coach called the team to order, and said a few things about teamwork and how they were already winners by being selected to play. The usual stuff. Then he called Tad and Wyatt forward.
Coach said, “We asked Cartwright and Spencer to join our team in the middle of the season. Because they were willing to help us out, we’d like to show our appreciation to the Titans. Tad and Wyatt, to say thank you for wearing our team colors on the field today, we’d like you to wear your Titan hats. And I think if you’ll look behind the dugout, we have a little surprise for you.”
Wyatt nearly knocked Tad down trying to get to the door of the dugout. By the time Tad rounded the corner, Wyatt was bouncing up and down with excitement. “Wow, that is so cool. I can’t believe it! Hey, guys!” he was yelling.
When Tad turned to see what had Wyatt so excited, he almost burst into tears. There in the first two rows behind the Rangers dugout was every member of the Titans team, wearing their team shirts, and holding signs that said, “Go #75 – Rad Tad”, “Tad & Wyatt – Titans First”, and “#61 Wyatt the Riot”. Tad’s dad said, “Son, I told you I’d help square it with the guys. After the game, we’re all going out for a victory party. I guess you better go win a baseball game so we have something to celebrate!”
The game went by in a blur. Each time Tad stepped up to bat, he could hear the Titans chanting “Rad Tad, Rad Tad”. When he hit a triple in the 4th inning and knocked in two runs, the Titan cheering section went bananas. In the 5th inning when Wyatt threw a guy out at home plate, the Titans were ecstatic. When the final score was announced and the Rangers came out on top, everyone in the Titans’ cheering section was on their feet, whistling and clapping.
After working his way through the crowd and enduring lots of back slapping and high-fives, Tad reached his dad. He launched himself into Dad’s arms and said, “Thanks, Dad. That was the best surprise EVER.”
The next week at the Cub Scout meeting, Mr. Bolton closed with a Cubmaster minute about loyalty. He asked Tad and Wyatt to tell the guys what they learned about loyalty by switching teams. Tad told them what his dad had said about all of them competing against each other on lots of things, but remaining friends.
“Being a Ranger wasn’t so bad, except for those ugly shirts,” Tad finished with a grin.