|Prologue||Chapter 1||Chapter 2||chapter 3|
|chapter 4||chapter 5||Chapter 6||Chapter 7|
|Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11|
|Chapter 12||Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Take me home!|
Our bus rattled into the motel parking lot around six-thirty in the morning. The engine died outside Niagara Falls and we spent the night on the highway waiting for repairs. The motel opened the restaurant early for us because it was too late to go to our rooms. Suzy arrived in the middle of the night to be with Robbie. She invited me to sit with them for breakfast, her treat. I was sucking down my fourth slice of bacon when Chad dropped the sports section in front of me.
"What the hell is this?" I asked. The long night had left me in a foul mood. Chad pointed to a headline that read "Commissioner Considers Petition."
It was about me! Several teams started a petition to bar me from playing at the major league level and to adopt a new rule barring all other teams from signing women. The paper was yanked away and I was staring into the little piggy eyes of Wimpey Farian, Scout Extraordinaire.
"What the fuck is this?" I asked while pointing to the article. Suzy's eyes widened as she read it.
"And good morning to you, dear lady," he said as he took my hand and kissed it.
"Morning doesn't start until seven-thirty, according to my clock." I pulled my hand away and wiped it clean. "Did you see the petition story?"
He sat beside me and ordered something for himself. He took an envelope from his pocket and handed it to me. "The petition is a pile of bullshit. The owners and G.M. are coming up to bat for you. You're safe." He pointed to the envelope. "Open it." I tore into the corner as the waitress brought Wimpey a platter of saturated fat. "Gaze those baby blues on that." He held up a cheque with more than four zeroes on it; dated for September."Is this bullshit, too?" I asked after swallowing my bacon and my shock at the number. Upon closer examination I counted five zeroes.
"All you do is pose for some pictures. . ."
"Not in the nude, I hope."
He grinned hugely. "No, silly; in your ball clothes, for the company that makes them." He stuffed a sausage in his face. "Acting as your agent. . ."
"MY WHAT?"I exclaimed loudly.
". . . I got you this for major league money. It's a good deal. Sign this." He held up a contract covered in tiny printing.
"Can I look at it?" I grabbed the contract out of his hands.
"Sure,” he said as he took a long, loud sip of his coffee.
"Now about this petition, they want me out of the show. I'm not busting my ass just to spend the rest of my life in the minors. I have ambitions, goals. If I'm good enough to make it to the show I don't want to be held back just because I'm a girl."
"Now hold on a minute," interrupted Garry. "Don't get your balls in a knot. It’s all for show. They’re doing it for the headlines and to stir up trouble. It’s cheap publicity. It’s all a grandstand play."
I tossed my contract into my purse. I had never been so angry in my life. "Don't worry Garry; I won't get my balls in a knot." I stormed into the ladies room.
"You know what I mean," he called after me.
After a few minutes Suzy came in. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"Does that kind of talk bother you?"
"No," I sighed. "When I'm on the team I want them to accept me as one of the guys. That's why I swear and spit and stuff." I sighed again. "Seems like I'm in a whole new league of being accepted."
She nodded. "Can I see the contract?" I handed it to her. She looked it over. "That's good . . . that’s good . . . that’s questionable . . . good . . . good. Not bad at all. Sign it."
"Yes. The Wimp is only taking two percent. Do you have a regular agent?"
"No, I didn't know where to find one." I scribbled my name on the dotted line. "Who's Robbie's agent?"
Suzy smiled, and raised her hand.
Her smile broadened.
"Oh yeah," I smacked my forehead. "That's what Robbie meant when he said you knew the business end of baseball."
"Need an agent?" She asked slyly.
"You bet!" I was grinning, imagining the possibilities. Robbie already had several licensing and endorsement deals. "What can you do for me?"
"Well, you're going to be in the news a lot just because you're a woman and you need someone to ensure the count is in your favour. A good agent can make you a star. A great agent can make you a superstar. I'm a great agent. But-- you must do one thing for me. One thing." She held up a perfectly manicured finger.
"Listen to your coaches. Do what they tell you, they're experts. Learn to be the best pitcher you can possibly be. Work hard and you can do it. Get to the show and I'll make you famous. The better you play, the more I can do for you." She pointed from me to her again.
"Can your connections kill the petition?"
"My father still has some influence." She smiled and her eyes told me her father had a lot of influence.
"Deal!" I said and we shook hands.
"This is the start of something big,” Suzy said as we walked out of the ladies room together.
We arrived at the stadium early. Garry gave us time to hang out in the club house while he called various players in his office. George, Bernie and Steve, (the hitting coach) sat with us, presumably to keep us from gossiping. Garry called Dean first, and we were quiet as he entered the office. He was in for two minutes when he came running out and threw his stuff into his bag. Garry grabbed his shoulder, spun him around and said, "See, you stupid kid! You just don't listen. Now get back in there and listen!" They disappeared for another twenty minutes and when Dean came out his eyes were red-rimmed and he was sniffling. He buried himself in a magazine and didn't speak to anyone.
Garry stood at the door and wiggled his finger. "Annie, I want to talk to you." He pointed me to a wobbly, cracked, yellow plastic chair across the desk from him. He opened a thin binder with my name on it. "You're starting tonight."
I nodded. What happened to Dean? I wondered.
"We're moving Dean to the infield," he said after reading my mind. "We're very pleased with your progress. The P.D. people are very happy. We still have to work on that wildness. George says that you listen and learn. That's the secret to get ahead in this world." He flipped ahead a few pages. "Now about that incident in the bar."
I involuntarily sucked in my breath and looked at the floor.
"Dirk Grant was arraigned yesterday. He pleaded guilty. You won't have to go to court."
I let out my breath but continued to examine the tiles on the floor.
"He's been thrown out of baseball. Forever. He won't be allowed to sell popcorn at a little league game." He was quiet for a minute. "Annie, you can look up now. You are not to blame. He was a drug addict. They found out when he went into withdrawal in jail." He handed me a tissue from a half-empty box. "Just put this whole thing out of your mind."
I blew my nose and tried to regain my composure.
"Now, about this petition, it's going to the league president in three days. Then it will go to the owners and they can't agree on what fucking restaurant to have lunch in. The player's union has caught wind of it and they're opposed to it. The one who started the whole ball of wax, that Sigmund guy, owner of the expansion Vancouver Vikings, is number one on their hate list, so the union has to oppose it on general principle." Garry smirked. "He could suggest giving every player a million bucks for Christmas and they would oppose it on general principle. Anyway, it's a dead issue."
I wasn’t worried any longer after my talk with Suzy, but I was happy to hear it from Garry. "Good, now I can worry about my first start. Whew! It feels like a big weight has been lifted from me. Thanks Garry! You're a peach!" I jumped up and gave him a hug. He blushed.
"Gee, nobody's ever called me a peach before. We realize that you're under a lot more pressure than the other guys, and your every move is under the microscope of the media. I want you to remember that we're all here for you and we’re all on your side. George will help you with a game plan later. Relax, everything is fine." He stood up and opened the door, meaning the meeting was over. I walked out and he called Robbie into his office.
The Tabbies played an exhibition game against the double-A affiliate team in the afternoon, then the regular game against us when it was over. Most of the guys went out to see the game, I decided to stay in the clubhouse and mentally prepare for my start. When George discovered that I was staying in he decided it would the perfect time to go over the Tabby's line-up. Back in my old league all I did was throw hard. George said up here that wasn't enough, I had to know their strengths and weaknesses. I had to have a game plan.
I know Morrison's weakness," I said shyly.
"Oh, yeah," grinned George, "So do I!"
"I just bat my eyelashes."
"Blow him a li'l kiss."
"Stick out my boobs, if I had any to stick out."
George laughed and blushed. "Shit! You don't talk like other girls!" He wiped his eyes on his sleeve. "So are you guys seein each other . . . not that it's any of my business."
"No," I answered, "Only on the field."
"Don't forget Ziggy's," cut in Garry, who emerged from the office. "Geez, I never expected a woman pitcher and I never expected her to get into a barroom brawl."
"Well," drawled George, "It wasn't her fault."
"True." He stroked his chin thoughtfully. "In hind sight I should have seen it coming. That wasn't the first time he's been a problem. He went from high school and college all-star champion with a .650 batting average to just another minor league nobody with an average of two hundred."
"Y'know Butch is an ole bud of mine. He told me that kid had been using them steroids to get better." George leaned forward and pulled a tin of tobacco from his back pocket. "You know what steroids are, don't you Annie?"
"Yeah. Some guys at the gym back home used to pop them like vitamins and say they were just as safe. They make guys violent. I saw it happen once."
"Sometimes they turn violent," Garry said as he sat on the bench beside George. "They're just plain bad news. I told her they discovered he was on drugs." He was looked at the chart on the wall, but seemingly not seeing it. "Some of these kids go from hero to zero and it's more than they can handle. I've seen it many times . . . too many times." His eyes turned to the floor.
"Is that why some people say I won't make it? Because I've gone from league MVP to nobody? And I won't be able to handle it?"
Garry nodded and looked up from the floor. "They think a woman doesn't have the toughness and fighting spirit to endure the life in the minors."
"Well!" I snorted. "I got a lot of fight in me. I've been fighting to be part of baseball since I was in high school and I've been fighting my mother ever since I learned how to say no. I've got a lot of toughness in me. Plenty of people say I'm too tough." I looked them both in the eyes. "I'm going to make it, you know. I'm going to be pitching in the show and I'm going to win and nothing or nobody is going to stop me."
Garry looked right back at me. "I'm not stopping you and I bet you make it." He smiled the biggest, warmest smile I had ever seen from him. "Now finish your game plan." He patted me on the head and returned to the office.
After the game's conclusion the guys returned to change for our game. I decided to try something different. Instead of hiding in the washroom to get dressed, I stripped to my underwear and dressed in front of all the guys. They all looked, but nobody said anything, except Pete, who said "Sorry, Sir," when he bumped into me.
Robbie was my catcher for the game, so he caught my warm-up pitches. This way he knew in advance which were my good pitches and which were my weak ones. He would also know if I was throwing a good fastball, or if we would have to rely on finesse, rather than power.Everything seemed to be working and I was soon ready to go.
"Hey Annie,” Paul called over. "I hope you do okay."
"Hey Paul," I called back. "I hope you don't."
I got the win for my first start. I gave up five hits, three walks and one hit batter. That totalled three runs. Our guys scored seven runs. I made one error. I was trying to pick off walrus face at first, (he reached when I hit him) and when I threw the ball it sailed off into the seats. The fan who caught it came up after the game and asked me to autograph the ball. The man was rather handsome and I wrote that on the ball. He showed his buddies and they slugged his head and shoulders. "That's guy talk for `you lucky bastard' right?" I asked them. They said yes and I explained that my team-mates were teaching me guy-talk.
I sat on the grass and waited for my turn to use the showers. One by one the lights winked out. I heard a voice behind me. "Hey Annie! Back here!" I looked behind me and Paul was waving to me. He came running over.
"Hi Paul! Sorry you struck out . . . four times!"
He grinned. "So, aren't you allowed in the locker room?"
"Yeah, I'm allowed. It's just hot and smelly and crowded and only one shower works."
He sat beside me. "You doing anything after the game?"
My heart jumped into my throat and I had to swallow hard to get it down. "I'm very hungry." I looked deeply into his blue eyes, trying not to drown in them.
"Great! Me too! Let's go somewhere and eat." He placed his hand on mine. "Any preferences?"
"Not really, but I have to be back at the motel at midnight for a bed check."
He gave my hand a squeeze. "I'll have you back in time. Can you be ready to go in half an hour?"
"Sure! I'll just towel off and get changed. I would have to wait too long for a shower." I got up to go.
"Hey!" He looked startled. "Do you get undressed in front of all those guys?"
"No, I was thinking of getting undressed out here!" I said sarcastically.
"Sorry, none of my business, right?" I raised one eyebrow and impulsively kissed his cheek. He cleared his throat and said, "How about we meet in front of the players’ entrance? I'll have my car waiting there."
I dashed into the locker room and quickly stripped off my sweaty uniform. I dried off most of the sweat and sprinkled myself with baby powder to soak up the rest. I wore the only skirt I brought along, a short denim one. I held up my two good shirts. "Larry," I waved him over. "I got a date with Paul."
"Good for you!" He smiled. "Good for him!"
I held up both shirts in front of me. "Beaded, ruffled white, or pink and mauve flowers?"
He looked critically at both. "Which shoes are you wearing?"
I held up my white leather sandals.
"Oh, then definitely the white blouse. It's more feminine."
Kyle and Pete were in a corner, giggling. "Oh, which shirt should I wear, Petey? The grungy plaid or the ripped sweats?"
"Which shoes are you wearing?"
"The high top hikers!"
"Then the plaid, fer sher -it's more-" his hands fluttered like a girl's, "-more feminine!" They burst into raucous laughter.
"Dick heads!" I yelled at them as they left. I pulled my dirty and sweaty hair back into a French braid. I brushed on some blush and mascara, and gave my eyes a sweep of blue and pink eyeshadow. As I ran out I grabbed Larry and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Thanks, Larry! You're a peach!"
As I passed Garry he yelled after me, "I thought I was the peach."
I found Paul waiting for me by a red Ferrari. He was wore very tight jeans and a bright red flowered shirt. A nest of gold chains hung around his neck; from one of them dangled a gold twenty-two. A large diamond adorned his left ear. A pair of pointy-toed cowboy boots completed the ensemble.
"Wow," he said, looking at my legs. "You really are a girl!"
I tried not to blush. "And I see the Tigers pay their farm players better than the Jays."
He looked surprised. "You mean you don't know?"
I was momentarily confused. "Know what?"
"Oh, okay," he chuckled. "I'll tell you later."
We hopped into his car and drove away. I waved to the guys as we drove past. Paul honked his horn and squealed his tires at his team-mates.
Paul took us to a road-house type place. Neon beer signs adorned the walls and hard rock blasted from the sound system. The waiter led us to the best table in the place, where we could see everyone and they could see us. We ordered beers and some food. They brought our food right away.
"Well, there goes the meal allowance for the week," I joked.
"Actually, I get more."
"Gee, I always wanted to be a Tiger."
"Our A players get only nine dollars a day. I usually get more." He looked at me with an odd expression.
"Okay, okay, `fess up. What's going on? What's your story?"
He leaned back and took a sip of his beer. "Back in February, in spring training, I broke my arm, very badly. They told me I couldn't play for over two months. Two weeks ago I got the all clear sign from the team doctors so I got sent down to the minor leagues for rehabilitation. I'll be down for about two months."
"Sent down?" I said, finally remembering who he was and why he was in Hamilton… the broken arm…the fight…everything. I felt like an idiot for not recognizing his name sooner.
"Yup! For the past five years I've been playing first base and batting third for the Detroit Tigers. Been to the all-star game twice and got this nifty little ring last year." He held up a sparkling World Series ring.
I had to force my mouth shut. I decided not to say anything because if I did, I would have sounded like an idiot. I took a long sip of my beer and regained a measure of my composure. He continued to grin.
"What's your average?" I finally said.
"Three-twenty-five against right handers." He took my right hand in his and kissed it.
I felt myself swelling with pride. "And you've struck out against me . . . how many times?" I felt a big grin spread across my face. "Wow! I guess I am good."
"Good? Shit, you're great. You're going all the way up some day."
"You're not taking me out to discover my secrets, are you?"
He kissed my hand again, letting his lips linger on my fingertips. "I don't care how you pitch or what your secrets are. The truth is; every time I look into your eyes I feel like I'm drowning. I would like to get to know you better, if you want to be with me." The hand that was touching my face gently stroked my cheek. He looked deep into my eyes.
I tried to say, "I would like that very much," but all that came out was "I I I wa wa wa wa I I” He stood up, bent over and kissed me on the mouth. "Mind if I faint right here and now?" I whispered.
He smiled and kissed me again. This time I had the presence of mind to return his kiss. "I have to go to the men's room. Will you have recovered by the time I get back?"
"Yes, I think so." I breathed. He walked to the back and disappeared. As the waiter went by I grabbed a menu and fanned myself off. Now this may be surprising, but I didn't have much romantic experience. I had a few boyfriends, but nothing serious. Most guys seemed to have a problem with the baseball thing. One dude actually wanted me to choose between him and the play-offs. I chose the play-offs. After that the guys in town thought I was weird. The bottom line was, at twenty-one, I was still a virgin. I mention this to explain why I was making a complete idiot of myself.
When he returned I stood and got another kiss. His hand rested on my cheek a second before he took it away. We ate our dinner and discovered we had plenty of things to talk about, things that had nothing to do with baseball. After dessert Paul took my hand in his and kissed it. "Annie, there's something I want to ask you."
"What is it?" I felt myself falling into his eyes.
"I don't want to pressure you or anything, but would you like to come back to my hotel with me? I feel something very strong between us and I would like to explore this feeling." His hand caressed my face and his fingers rested on my lips. What else could I say but:
"No. I have a bed check in half an hour. We can go back to my motel. My roomie owes me big time."
"Okay, I think." He shook his head. "For a second my heart shattered."
I kissed him and gave him a hug. "Does that help?"
He wrapped his arms around me. "Getting naked with you would help more. Where's your motel?"
I told him and we drove back. There was no sock on the door. I unlocked it and smacked Dean in the head with a pillow to rouse him.
"HMGLMPH!" he mumbled.
"Out, sleaze-ball. I need the room."
"Oh Annie, is your date with Paul over?" He was rubbing his eyes, blinking in the light that Paul had switched on.
"No, you dolt. It's getting to the fun part. Now leave so we can use my bed!" I grabbed his clothes off the floor and pitched them at him. "Maybe if you promise to be good Pete and Robbie will take you in for the night."
There was a sharp knock at the door. "I'll hide in the bathroom," said Paul, who was silent with confusion.
Dean looked out the peep-hole. "It's just Garry." He pulled on a pair of track pants. When he was decent I opened the door.
Garry peered in. "Annie, Dean, you're both here, good night." He left for the next room.
Dean grabbed a shirt and put it on backwards. "Okay, you can come out now, I'm leaving."
"Never mind," I said. "You can stay."
"Would someone tell me what the hell is going on here?" Paul emerged from the bathroom. "Is it safe to come out?"
"No,” I said. "I'm coming in there."
"Gee, I was hoping to go somewhere more spacious." He sounded a bit angry.
"NO! Out the window. My bed check is over; Garry thinks I'm here, so we can sneak out until morning.""What about me?" Asked Dean, who looked totally bewildered.
"Find your own girl!" called Paul as we climbed up the toilet and out the window.
We drove in silence for a while. "Are you mad at me for what happened at the motel?" I asked to break the silence.
He looked over at me, a sardonic smile in his eyes. "No, I was just thinking about my days in the minors. They were a lot of fun."
"Like back at the motel?"
"Oh yeah, Single A was the most fun I ever had." He made a strange humphing noise. "Enjoy it while you can. You only get one first time!"
I was quiet while we drove the rest of the way to his hotel. In his room there was a living room with a large couch and a television, and a separate bedroom. He locked the door and led me to the couch and sat me down. "This is what I've been waiting for," He whispered as he started kissing me. His hand brushed my cheek. "Open your mouth more, don't be shy. . ." I did as he asked and his tongue entered my mouth, his hands touched all over my body. They came to rest on my breasts and his fingers squeezed my nipples. The feeling was intensely exquisite.
I snuggled closer to him. He stretched backwards and pulled me on top of him. I could feel his pants bulging against me. "Oh Annie, Annie,” he whispered in my ear. "Touch me open my pants and touch me. . . feel me." He pushed my hand between his legs and I unzipped him and unbuckled his belt. I reached onto his underpants. He was all warm and firm. I wondered if now was a good time to tell him I had never done any of this before, or if he had already guessed.
While I was wondering he opened my shirt and started working on my bra. He unbuttoned his shirt and dropped it on the floor on top of mine. He put his arms around me, pushed me back and stretched my legs out. His hand went under my skirt and his mouth went on my breast. He pulled off my panties, which were very damp by this time, and started exploring and probing inside me. Between his probing fingers and his mouth sucking on my nipples, I had my first real orgasm. I moaned right out loud and my whole body shook with the intensity. He lay on top of me and looked into my eyes.
"Was that a good one?" He asked, smiling warmly.
"Ummmm, that was my . . . my . . . out with it, girl—that was my first orgasm ever, in fact this is the first time I ever . . . ever. . ." My voice faded and suddenly I felt very embarrassed.
He looked surprised. "You mean you're a virgin?"
"Yes." There. He knew.
He picked me up and carried me to his bed. He finished undressing me and untied my hair. He then undressed himself and laid beside me. He gazed deeply into my eyes. "Your first time should be special."
"It already is special," I said, "And I mean it. I've never felt like this before."
He took me in his arms and kissed me and made love to me. When it was over I snuggled up close to him and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep. Next morning he took me to breakfast and drove me back to the motel.
At the park I floated into the locker room, got changed in a daze, and floated onto the field. Garry looked at me quizzically a few times and finally came over when Paul blew a kiss over to me from his dug-out.
"Okay kid, what's up?" Garry asked.
I giggled like a teenager.
He went "AHEM!" and tried again. "So how was the big date with Paul?"
"Cool. Two weeks ago I became a man; last night I became a woman!" I sighed loudly, for effect.
Garry turned bright red and yanked his collar so hard it almost ripped. "Shit! You don't need a jock strap! You need a chastity belt!" He started to laugh when I couldn't hold it in any longer. "Just keep your mind on the game when you're playing, okay?"
I said I would. There was nothing for me to do today because it was my rest day. I pitched all nine innings and Bernie said I was to rest my arm so it wouldn't get injured. I told him that my arm felt weak and rubbery, and when I tried to pick up a glass of milk for breakfast, I almost dropped it. He said that's why I had to rest it.
After the game Paul took me to dinner again. This time I didn't make such an idiot of myself. Halfway through dessert I saw Dean attempting to pick up a waitress. She had burgundy hair, and the largest breasts I had ever seen. I pointed her out to Paul.
"Yuck! That hair colour can only come from a bottle. And anything bigger than a mouthful is a waste. Yuck!" He shuddered. "Is that guy your roomie?"
"Yes, that's Deannie the Weenie. Every night it's a different girl."
"He should cultivate better taste in girls. Has he ever made a move on you?"
"He's never tried."
"See, that proves his taste is up his butt crack. There's a guy like him on every team. He thinks he has the greatest prick ever made." He took a long drink of his beer.
"Let's go back to my motel!" I said. Paul looked startled. "I want to lock the weenie out. We have an arrangement and I've never had the opportunity to use my end of the deal."
He took my hand in his. "I've never met a woman like you. Let's go!"
At the motel I unlocked the door and we entered. I grabbed a pink sock and tied it to the door knob. Paul looked amused. "What's that?"
"Our system. That means we can't be interrupted. Usually I come back to find one of Dean's socks on the door. Garry came up with the idea."
This time when we made love I knew what to do. I didn't feel like a complete idiot. When we finished we snuggled together and whispered sweet things to each other. All the while his hands stroked my hair, my face, my breasts, everything.
"I can't keep my hands off you, you are so sexy," he whispered.
"Keep touching me, it feels like heaven,” I whispered back.
"So what do you think of sex, now?"
"I think I could get to enjoy this."
He laughed. "You have a gift for understatement." He was on top of me, gazing into my eyes.
"I love looking into your eyes, they are beautiful." I brushed a stray lock of his long hair out of the way and kissed him. We became interested in love again when a sharp knock rattled the door. I grabbed a night shirt, threw it on and answered the door. It was Garry. Paul had his T-shirt and underpants on when Garry marched in.
"Don't worry coach, I'm on my way out," said Paul as he zipped up his jeans.
"Oh, you must be Paul Morrison." Garry held out his hand and they shook. My father would have shot Paul, but Garry wasn't my father. "How's the re-hab going?"
Paul grinned. "Better than I ever expected."
"That's good . . . Annie, where's Dean?"
"No idea, Garry."
"Well, tell him he's in shit, again." Garry turned to leave.
"I'll do that."
Paul kissed me as he made his way out. "See you tomorrow, sweetie. Nice to meet you, coach." He climbed in his car and started the engine. As he drove off a blue Corvette came screeching in. Dean jumped out and ran for the room. Garry stood at the door to greet him.
"Garry!" He panted. "Oh shit!" He grabbed his head. "I'm late!"
Garry pasted on a poker face. "You know my rules, Dean." The corner of his mouth was twitching.
“AAAWWW coach!" He whined. "I was only," He looked at his watch, "Ten minutes late."
"Well, Dean, it's like I told you yesterday. You don't listen and you never learn. Next road trip you're rooming with Larry."
"AAAWWW coach!" His whining was getting on my nerves. "Not Larry! He reads the Bible in the evening for excitement."
Garry backed out. "Maybe he will be a good influence for you." He closed the door. I peeked out the curtain to see him telling George and the two of them laughing as they walked off.
Dean was quiet the next day. He took extra batting practice and wanted to practice picking off runners at first. He was a very good fielder, when he put his mind to it. His reflexes were quick and he instinctively knew where to play the ball.
I had to come out in the eighth inning when Blake twisted his ankle. The bases were loaded up, nobody out, and a full count on the batter. I trotted to the mound and George said to me, "Remember everything I've been telling you about putting the ball into play?"
I nodded. "You said I was to trust my fielders."
He spat. "I'm fulla shit. Strike em out."
Garry patted my butt. "I know you can get us out of this pickle, kid. Keep our lead." Our lead was a hefty one run.
Suddenly I was scared enough to barf. The walrus face was at the plate and Paul was on deck, swinging five bats bundled together. This was not the Paul I made love to, this was the hard-hitting major league all star. I thought it might be a good time to drop everything, go home, take a job in Mommy Inc., and everything would be over.
Pete broke into my thoughts. "Okay Annie, throw hard and fast and hope everything is on." He trotted back to the plate and flipped his mask into place.
I tried not to think of the fact there were three balls and two strikes on Mr. Walrus. I threw my last warm-ups to Pete. He liked the curve ball, the slider and the fastball. He signalled to forget the rest, they weren't working.
The Walrus got into position. Pete signalled for a fastball and he punched his glove twice, meaning he wanted it through the zone. I wound up and threw as hard as I could. He swung, and his bat shattered as it made contact. The ball went straight up and straight down; Pete didn't have to move to catch it.
He walked back to the dug-out. "I hate your girl friend," he said as he passed Paul.
"That's not my girlfriend," said Paul, "That's just another minor league pitcher." He looked me in the eye and winked.
"Yeah," I said, "And you're just another ugly bastard to strike out."
He grinned and said, "Gimme your best, li'l girlie."
I blew a fastball right by him. Strike one. Pete wanted a slider and I threw it hard. Paul got under the ball and lifted it up and out to where the chickens roost, making the count no balls and two strikes; my kind of count. Now I could have some fun. Pete signalled for the slider and rubbed his chest side-to-side, which meant make it a slow one, not a fast one. I wound up, flung out my arm, and held the ball a split second before I released it. There was no velocity or spin on the ball and Paul was through his swing before the ball was halfway to the plate.
He pointed the business end of the bat at me. "They have names for bad girls like you."
"Yeah!" crowed Pete. "Future hall of Fame pitcher!"
The next batter was just a terrified kid. I made short work of him in two pitches. He popped up to Larry playing third. I decided that I didn't really want to work for my mother, after all.
I got the save and a lot of attention from the media. I spent an hour talking to reporters in the locker room. Most came to see how Paul was doing in re-hab. One said he had a great story about Paul being stymied by a minor league pitcher, and a girl, also. He asked me how I could be a girl and clocked at over a hundred miles an hour. I gave a smart-ass answer.
When they left I went to George. "Did I really throw a hundred to-day?"
He stood with his arms folded. "How'd y'all find out?"
"A reporter asked me how I did it."
He looked serious. "And what did you tell him?"
"I said I drank herbal teas, shunned red meat, led a pure and chaste life and it was none of his damned business."
He smirked. "Good! `Specially the none of your business part." He uncrossed his arms and rubbed my head. "Now go get changed. Bus leaves in thirty minutes!" He swatted my behind.
I showered and changed into warm up pants and a team T-shirt. I was stuffing my equipment into my bag when Paul came to the door.
"Sorry," said Pete, "This room is off limits to toothless Tabbies."
"Come in Paul, Pete's just weird. What's up?"
He chuckled softly. "Nothing right now. Can I see you the next time the two teams are together?"
"Sure. How long before you get called up again?"
He thought for a few moments. "A few weeks. I'm still rusty and my arm hurts a bit."
"You're not rushing things, are you?"
"Maybe I am. Maybe I'm a little out of shape." I patted the part of his stomach hanging over his belt. "Okay, so a lot out of shape. I can work out all my problems down here. I want to help my team in the stretch and at play-off time. I wouldn't be doing that if I came back too soon. I hope to get another of these nifty little rings." He gazed down at his World Series ring glittering in the harsh lights.
Garry came in. "Get your stuff on the bus. We leave in ten minutes."
"I guess I see you in three weeks." I grabbed his hands.
"Yeah," He hugged me close and kissed me in front of everybody. "See you later, kid." He winked and walked out.
I grabbed my stuff, tossed it in the luggage compartment and flopped in one of the seats. The trip home would take less than an hour and by nine-thirty I would be in bed, sleeping. I had never been so tired in my life.
|Prologue||Chapter 1||Chapter 2||chapter 3|
|chapter 4||chapter 5||Chapter 6||Chapter 7|
|Chapter 8||Chapter 9||Chapter 10||Chapter 11|
|Chapter 12||Chapter 13||Chapter 14||Take me home!|