It's not as large as a baseball. It's not even as large as a pingpong ball.
But when Stefan "Stizzy" Parker bends his right knee, a small sphere pops up, and ironically, a basketball mishap caused it.
Parker is a 6-1, 160-pound senior righthander at Delaware Valley Charter High, and he realizes he's unlike almost of his buddies and peers, because baseball is his favorite sport.
But, hey, he does like hoops, and Saturday he got involved in an outdoor pickup game at a local court.
"I got fouled on a drive and came down like this," he said, bending to make his knee touch the ground. "Hit it right on the concrete. Man, that hurt.
"When I bend my leg, a big lump pops out. Guess there's water in there. All through [Sunday], I wasn't sure I'd be able to pitch."
Pitch he did, though. And he even collected a win, thanks to a dramatic rally.
DV bested host William Bodine, 9-6, in Division D of the Public League on the strength of a six-run seventh that erased a 5-3 deficit.
A one-out, nobody-on infield bobble opened the gates. The Warriors stormed through with six hits, with two-run knocks by Marquis Budd (single) and Tavon Holloway (double) prominent among them, against hard-luck senior lefty Jesse Steinberg.
Parker went out in the bottom half and allowed a leadoff triple to Steinberg and then a walk to Andres Hernandez.
Don't tell us Bodine is going to make this a true memory-maker.
Steinberg scored on a throwing error as Hernandez thieved second, but a groundout and two strikeouts followed, and Parker was understandably thrilled.
"That was a great win," he said. "It looked like they had us. We didn't let that happen."
Parker, a renowned fireballer, said his velocity was second-rate in this one, probably because his knee was still slightly tender. He also had location problems with his curve.
Nevertheless, he held the Ambassadors to four hits (OK, he did walk six and drill two), while striking out 12.
Parker, who's being eyed by junior-college programs, has routinely reached double digits in whiffs this season, even in five-inning outings, and he boasts game highs of 17 and 19.
"I love getting strikeouts," he said. "I like seeing the looks on guys' faces. They thought they were going to hit it, but instead they're walking away mad."
Parker (he has no idea where "Stizzy" comes from; just that his family members have always called him that) lives within long-fly distance of East Germantown's Lonnie Young Rec Center and was steered into baseball at an early age. He was a centerfielder originally and became a pitcher only when a coach figured his decent arm could translate to the mound.
"Our first 2 years in the Pub, we didn't do so hot," Parker said. "Time to turn things around. To give it our all and go out nice. With the help of my two fellow seniors, Jamel Fuller and Reggie Hawkins, we're doing that [7-2 league mark].
"I give lots of credit to my coaches, Mr. [Will] Cambria and Mr. [Chris] O'Brien. I wasn't too good at pitching until I came to Delaware Valley. They brought me along. Pitching gives me a good feeling. I like that my teammates depend on me."
Fuller's double produced run No. 1 in the seventh. Hawkins then bunted, and the play became a hit when no one covered first. He even steamed on to second as the Ambassadors napped. Budd smacked his single to center, Clevis Burris lined his second double to left, and Holloway followed with his two-bagger in the same direction. One out later, Marvin Gaines plated run No. 6 with another bullet to left.
"That whole inning was nice," Parker said. "The bottom guys got it rolling."
Steinberg wound up allowing 10 hits and fanning 11. Andrew Rosado led Bodine's offense with two hits and three RBI.
When Parker was asked why he prefers baseball over basketball, he responded: "I don't even know. I just love it. It's part of my heart."
Here's hoping the knot on his knee will soon be part of his past. *