Top of the Seventh

When Michael arrived at his desk early, the phone was already ringing. The stack of newspapers seemed too thick. The gloom of another loss was all over the place. Many co-workers were already in, again, wandering around, breathing in the pall of loss number 22. It felt like a wake. He half expected to hear Taps playing from the stadium speakers.

On his drive-in, the whole town seemed angry and mopey. He came from a town that had its loyalties split between teams and he was amazed by how this town seemingly took on the mood of its lone baseball team. It truly felt like the team was the heart and soul of the town. It was the lone major sports team in the city with its beloved football team having been stolen off years before. When the team was doing well, the whole town just seemed more vibrant, more alive. On this morning, the whole town was just angry.

And angry might not even be the right word. Anger seems to imply people walking around with scowls, being rude to each other, and maybe even muttering a bit to themselves. But no, the mood of this morning was one more of a quiet anger … People just quietly walking down the street, lost in their own thoughts, not paying much mind to others. That there was the difference. In a city that was known for being friendly, there was barely a word exchanged between people.

Customers just grunted at the newsstands and only received change and a nod in return. People on the street ran into each other and simply kept on walking without an “excuse me.” Even cars that narrowly missed each other on the street didn’t bother to honk. The whole city seemed to be in an uneasy haze. Almost as if they had accepted that their team would never, ever win another game. Or maybe they were just collectively holding their breath waiting for the next game and the next shot at redemption.

He flopped into his chair and just let his arms hang down, out to the side for a moment as he looked at the ceiling. He said a small prayer to himself and asked for strength. He felt heavy in his chest. Maybe heavy wasn’t even the right word. He was tense and felt strung tight like a violin in his chest and it weighed him down.

He stared at the ceiling and continued to ask for strength. The strings weren’t going to get any looser, the calls weren’t going to slow down, and there seemed to be no hope that this team was going to win. And the prayers weren’t even for a win. It was for the strength to get through what was before him in the current day. He didn’t ask for an escape or a way out. He didn’t ask for the burden to be removed. He just asked for strength to get through it. Anymore, it wasn’t just about the team—although a win certainly takes care of a whole lot—it was about how he would handle this moment in time and how he could simply get through this day.

He thought about the day before and a twinge of regret hit him. The strings pulled tighter in his chest. Caught up in a moment in which he felt bigger than he really was, he had taken a prized possession and given it to someone who knew nothing of him. Even though he felt like he was there for a reason, that there was a purpose for him at that moment, he could not help but wonder if that baseball was sitting in a trash can in the clubhouse. He shuddered at the thought.

He righted himself in the chair and reached down to answer the phone. As he picked up the phone, he instantly became distracted by a large, heavy envelope on his desk with his name on it. As he listened to another fan scream in his ear, he opened the envelope and pulled out the contents. As any baseball fan would, he instantly recognized what he was holding, and as any broke baseball fan would do, he coveted what he held in his hand. He nearly dropped the phone that he had wedged between his shoulder and ear.

In his hand were about 20 nearly identical Books of season tickets. The team logo and the slogan of the year dominated the covers. The bindings of the Books were intact. They had never been opened.

For the true fan, these Books were so much more. As the common metaphor goes, the stadiums that peppered the country weren’t just stadiums. The little league through college fields were the chapels to the religion. The minor league fields were the churches. The cathedrals were the major league stadiums. This stadium, the one he was in now, was widely considered the St. Peter’s Basilica of the sport. So these Books were not merely books of season tickets to the great fans … they weren’t even just bibles. They were Gutenberg Bibles that he held in his hands and they had never been opened. He must have let out an audible gasp as he realized what he held.

On a yellow sticky note on the top, which did not belong on such treasures, were instructions to deliver four of the books to an address he didn’t recognize and the rest were to go to the local firehouse.

As he was fumbling to put the books back into the large envelope, and still listening to the fan ranting in his ear, he almost didn’t notice the small envelope slip out of the larger one. It was addressed to him, again. When he opened it, it contained a scrap piece of paper that merely said “Thank You,” with the scribbled signature of the Old Ballplayer.

He finished listening to the fan and hung up. He quickly grabbed the appropriate forms from the shelf behind him and ignored the phones as he hastily filled them out. Without putting the tickets down, he half ran to the supply closet to grab a couple of envelopes. He taped the forms to them, separated out the tickets, ran down to the front reception desk, and requested a pickup by bike courier.

By the time he got back to his desk, he could hardly breathe. His heart was pounding as he hoped it wasn’t too late! He took a moment to think back through what had happened the night before. After the game …

The drive home from loss number 22 was a mix of emotions that went from frustration to excitement. There was no doubt that number 22 was the worst in the series and it was one of the most devastating losses he had ever experienced. All losses are not created the same. Some losses, your gut just kind of expects it. Guys hurt, star pitcher against you, bad weather, whatever, there are times when you just know the loss is coming. It’s something you develop in your gut after years of watching. Other losses happen quickly … Your pitcher gives up five runs in the first and the batters just never get going. The game is essentially over in the first couple of innings. There are even some losses that creep up on you and just happen, like a couple of late-inning runs that just get you, but still don’t feel as bad.

Then there was loss number 22. These types are devastating. Some might call devastating too strong of a word, but when you are talking about so much at stake and a loss destroying all of it, devastating seems appropriate. In the relative scheme of things, the loss doesn’t mean much, but when you are deep into that world of baseball, these losses are devastating.

Ending this streak is all the team was playing for at this point … It was consuming the team, and to a certain extent, their futures. This streak was something each and every one of them would carry with them the rest of their lives and they cannot begin to put it behind them until it was behind them. So, the primary objective was to end the streak. The season was all but certainly lost, and pride, well most came to terms with losing that a week ago. The only thing to work for was to end it and end it quickly.

You cannot have a city and a fanbase that loves a team so much without having a build-up of energy like water behind a dam. However, in this case, this player, for years, has been hiding behind this sentiment toward him that no one truly understood. It was a faulty dam, and the sheer energy behind it pushed against it waiting for the cracks to finally give. If that wasn’t bad enough, this player was sitting on the wrong side of the dam throwing sticks of dynamite at it. It was not going to hold. With each stick he threw, the dam got weaker and weaker, and whether he knew what he was doing or not, it was simply a matter of time before it was going to give way and all that once positive energy that was held back was going to come crashing down on him, and he was not a strong swimmer.

So when a player that teammates tried to pretend was actually a teammate, fans desperately try to remember who he once was and why they were supposed to love him, and the media has given a pass out of some weird respect lets that objective slip by him through carelessness or indifference, it lets a whole lot of weight come crashing through the dam. It was devastating to everyone involved.

However, Michael was excited, as well. As he looked through the papers before number 22 that day, he came across an old newspaper clipping about the Tuck’s first home run. The main story of that day so many years before was on the performance of the pitcher, but he made some headlines as well for providing the only offense needed to secure the perfect game. The article talked about a rookie excited to be in the big leagues and pined about the type of player he would be. The player was quoted talking about the pride of his parents and how excited he was to just go out and play the game every day. It also talked about the home run ball and how much Tuck would love to have it. With the article was a picture that showed him rounding third with a big smile on his face. In the background in the front row of the left field stands, the caption noted, were his parents and brother. It was obvious that he had just acknowledged them as he was rounding the bag.

The date of the game couldn’t escape him and the realization of what it meant washed over him. He suddenly felt so much smaller in the world and so much bigger at the same time. When you realize that there are forces much much larger than you at play and sending you on a deliberate path through life, you can’t help but feel like an insect crawling across a countertop weaving around obstacles placed before you. But when forces that big choose to direct their attention specifically on you, there becomes a paradox of feeling both very very tiny in the world and feeling very very large at the same time. The realization of the date overwhelmed him in this paradox.

When the intern got home that night, he went directly to the closet in his bedroom, pulled an old file box from the top shelf, and opened the lid. In it was assorted memorabilia … letters from friends and old girlfriends, notepads of writing, some of his ticket stubs, and roughly a decade’s worth of stuff he just couldn’t throw away because they remind him of one moment or another. However, sitting at the top of everything in the box, he found what he was looking for … a baseball that had grown yellow, but was otherwise in perfect condition. There was a single black smudge on one side of it.

He remembered so clearly on his 13th birthday sitting in the den watching a baseball game. He had only recently become a fan and he had since thrown his entire self into the game. It consumed his thoughts and his actions. As he sat watching the TV, with his toys on the ground at his feet, his father sat down with him. He asked him if he ever told him about the day he was born. He continued on explaining how he and Michael’s uncle had received last-minute tickets for a baseball game from someone they had done some work for. They had jumped on a bus and had gotten to the game just in time for the start. He built up the drama of the game and how it turned into a 1-0 perfect game, with the only home run coming from a rookie ballplayer. He then produced a baseball from behind his back and explained how he had caught the home run ball.

His story didn’t end there. He talked about how he and his brother went to a bar to celebrate before heading home. When he did arrive home, he found that his wife was not there and had, hours earlier, been rushed off to the hospital in early labor. By the time he got to the hospital, his wife was on the verge of giving birth but made sure to have a few words to say to him about being gone and out of reach all day.

He then handed the ball to his son, asking him to hold on to it.

He held that ball now, sitting in his apartment so many years later, and he knew what he had to do with it. It was his most prized possession, but he felt like it belonged with someone else. He now felt like he was merely borrowing that ball and that it belonged to the Old Ballplayer.

He took the ball, scrambled to his car, and drove back to the stadium. He had a photocopy of the article from that day and he wrote a quick note explaining what the ball was, although something told him that the Old Ballplayer would know exactly what it was. He left it on the player’s chair in an envelope, expecting him to get it in the morning. What he didn’t realize was that the player was still in the stadium and that everything was about to change.

Warehouse Windows

The Pendleton Moment

In “Bottom of the Sixth: Pendulum of Baseball”, the character Abigail’s first experience with the moment that momentum changes and swings the other way. I think most baseball fans, or fans of every sport, experience this type of moment, what I call the Pendleton Moment. It is a point in a game or a season when everything seems to be going great for your team; they have the lead and/or momentum, all the breaks are going their way and they just seem unbeatable. And then the Pendleton Moment happens, where something goes wrong, sometimes subtle, sometimes huge, and everything changes. Everything has swung back in the other direction and never returns.

You may be reading this and thinking that I have the wrong word and I mean to say “pendulum moment”. I am not. I intentionally call it the “Pendleton Moment”…Let me explain.

I fell in love with the New York Mets in 1986 when they won the World Series in such dramatic fashion. I had not followed them for a full season, however, until 1987 (yes, initially, I was a bandwagoner). And 1987 was a rollercoaster that started with Dwight Gooden in drug rehab and not pitching until June, saw the Mets drop to 10.5 games behind the Cardinals by July 10, rallying and chasing through the late Summer to find themselves 1.5 games behind St. Louis on September 11 with a three game series against them at Shea Stadium.

And just as I remember the details around the moment that I fell in love with the New York Mets, I remember the moment I experienced my first baseball heartbreak. While there were still 20 games after this set for the Mets to catch the Cards, this series was huge and held a playoff like atmosphere to it. A sweep puts them up 1.5 games up and a simple win of the series puts them just a half game behind.

I had a Youth Group gathering the night of the first game, but someone had a radio that we would listen to from time to time. We heard the Mets get a 4-1 lead early in the game and it felt like they were assured of a win. It got to the 9th inning and Roger McDowell walked the first guy but then got the next two outs. The Mets were one out away from getting within a half game of the Cards with Dwight Gooden (who had a strong season after rehab) pitching the next day with the possibility of putting them in first place for the first time since April 25th. That scenario almost seemed poetic and would quickly become a fantasy.

Willie McGee singled in a run bringing up Terry Pendleton, the pendulum.

The radio was sitting on a chair next to an open side door of the St. Jude Parish Center where we had been playing basketball. It was a nice fall evening and we took a break to listen to the 9th inning and cool off. I remember the color of the carpet around the edge of the wood floor. I remember the color of the door frame. I can even picture the cars sitting in the parking lot just beyond the open door. I remember all of it as the voice of Bob Murphy broke my heart calling the home run to deep center that Pendleton would hit.

I felt the air escape my lungs. I felt my heart drop into my stomach. I felt hope fighting to leave my young baseball soul. The momentum of the game and the season, in that instant, swung the other way. In some ways, you could argue, it was the moment the whole franchise changed and swung in a direction that they have yet to recover from..

The Mets managed to get a bit of a rally in the bottom of the ninth, putting two runners on, but Keith Hernandez would ground out to end the rally. The Cards scored twice in the tenth to nail down the game and, for all intents and purposes, the NL East.

The Mets were 2-1/2 games out when Gooden took the mound the next afternoon and promptly gave up five runs in the first and they dropped to 3-½ games back. They won on Sunday, but you could feel the team had just lost all their momentum…they had given it to the Cardinals.

They would get back to 1.5 games, but they went 11-9 in the final 20 games to finish 3 games behind. I don’t remember when they actually got eliminated (I looked it up…September 30 with a loss just before a final three game set in St. Louis), but it felt like they got eliminated with Pendleton’s home run. I held out hope as all good fans of the game do. I’ve always been an ultra-optimistic fan(born in the forge of the greatest World Series comeback in history will do that), but deep down inside me, I knew they were done that Friday night.

Since then, those moments when everything swings back the other way have been known as Pendelton moments to me and it might be 20/20 hindsight, but I feel like I always know it the moment it happens. Like one of those pendulum rides at an amusement park when it hits that highest point and then stops for a second. You know exactly what is about to happen next and in that next second, the air rushes out of your lungs.

Mike Scioscia’s 9th inning home run in game 4 of the 1988 NLCS. Jeffrey Maier’s interference in game 1 of the 1996 ALCS. Marquis Grissom’s three run home run in the 8th inning of game 1 of the 1997 ALCS. Timo Perez being thrown out at home in the 6th inning of game 1 of the 2000 World Series. Greg Dobb’s sixth-inning grand slam in the middle game of the September Phillies series at Shea Stadium in 2007. Alcides Escobar’s leadoff inside the park home run of game 1 of the 2015 World Series.

These are all moments that did not immediately decide games or season’s. Some Pendleton moments don’t even change the score. However, they are moments when you feel like everything has changed, momentum is lost and the wind is taken out of the sails of a team. They are key moments, sometimes huge, sometimes subtle, that seem to remove a team from contention.

I imagine for a player, there is a psychological factor that is involved. In the case of the Mets and Cardinals, the Mets were ready to celebrate and they were knocked to the ground while the Cardinals were filled with elation. As a fan, I know that mentally you just get crushed by some of these moments. For a player who is in the thick of it and has worked so hard to get to that point and have one moment hit you like that, it can be nearly devastating to you mentally, making it difficult to recover in time.

And you don’t always feel it right away, but in all those moments listed above, I remember them bringing a strong sense of foreboding…somewhere, deep down inside me, despite my unending optimism, I knew my team was done in that moment. I still held out hope. I still rooted and even prayed, but somehow, I just knew that the pendulum of momentum had just swung the other way. These Pendelton moment’s are painful for fans and sometimes hang with you for the lifetime of your fandom to recover.

As I contemplate all the Pendelton moments I have encountered in my life as a Mets fan, I wonder if they all go away if and when the Mets win the World Series again. I hope it doesn’t take too long to find out.

And the more I think about all of this, I can’t help but wonder if it was the wild pitch or Bill Buckner’s error that was the Pendelton moment for the 1986 Red Sox.

And I remember that the pendulum swings both ways.


Bottom of the Sixth

In her first couple of years, as a young fan still gazing out at the magic from within her father’s shadow, Abigail instantly took to baseball. The team was good and won a lot of games. They had five pitchers that each in their own right would be aces on any other staff. Instead, together they formed one of the most legendary pitching staffs ever to crisscross the country. Their lineup wasn’t the most consistent, but at any time anyone with a bat could hit the ball out of the park. It seemed that most days they only ever needed one or two runs. Games seemed to be decided just by the team taking the field and the only suspense was who was going to hit the home run.

The team had seemed to be so charmed during her early years of watching them. There seemed to be a magic about them and she liked to think that magic was real and just limited to her team. She approached every game as if it were already won. Her father cautioned her on the notion. He made sure to tell her stories about how the team, not so long ago, routinely finished dead last in the standings. While she didn’t think he was lying, she did think they were exaggerated narratives to back her father’s modest personality.

She grew convinced that the team could do no harm. And while the team didn’t win the championship every year, when they did, the memory of a past failure was virtually erased. Her team fandom was born in the same heat that the crown was forged and it was all she knew. This is what she thought baseball was. Great pitching. A big hit. Another championship. Baseball.

The team winning was just baseball to her in those days. It was all she knew.

Just as much as she remembers the moment she fell in love with the game, she vividly remembers the moment it all came crashing down. Abigail remembers when the fires were suddenly extinguished and she remembers when her baseball innocence was lost.

The team at that point had won the division five straight times and the last two championships when suddenly they couldn’t do anything right. The ace of the staff was hurt before the season, with rumors of a drunk-driving accident being the cause. A trade had taken another ace to another team and the bats were getting old, although it would take her a few years to fully understand that implication.

For half a season, they found themselves sitting at the exact point of baseball mediocrity. They had as many wins as losses and sat as many games from the basement as they did from the penthouse. It was a position they were actually fortunate to be in.

She remembered thinking how she was convinced at the All-Star break that the second half would be better and they would make a great run that would make all of baseball’s past great runs look like crawls. She envisioned them only losing 10 times in the second half, storming their way to a third straight championship.

The reality was that they lost 10 games in their first 15 after the break, but she still held out hope that was rewarded. A rookie pitcher came up and infused the team with a new attitude and spirit. A couple of the aging bats suddenly came alive and the amazing plays of the shortstop seemed to spark the team in the field. They went on a near-miraculous tear and the magic was back.

It wasn’t just that they kept winning that built up her dreams of another championship, it was the way they were doing it. Near no-hitter, walk-off grand slams, a new hero every night. The team was as she knew them, nearly unbeatable. She felt the magic was back and that nothing would stop them.

With a week left in the season, the team found themselves just two games back starting a three-game series against the first-place team at home. Her dad took her to that Friday’s night game and was overjoyed as her boys took a two-run lead in the first inning. The runs would hold up over the course of the next seven innings and both pitchers became nearly unhittable. In the top of the ninth, the Rivals would get the bases loaded without any outs. Even in that desperate moment, she was convinced and knew her team would triumph.

Then, a looping fly ball made its way out to shallow left-center field. Just as it looked like it was going to drop in, the shortstop came out of nowhere to snag the ball. The runner at second thought it was going to drop in and was doubled off as he tried to make his way back. Just like that, there were two outs and victory seemed assured. It was a beautiful play the shortstop made on it. So beautiful that it could only be labeled as magic. The entire stadium shook as everyone stood. She momentarily got scared thinking the stadium was going to come crashing around her.

Her father, meanwhile, just stood up, smiled, and clapped. He wouldn’t give in to the mania that swept the rest of the crowd. He was a seasoned fan who did not necessarily believe in magic. He was a man of faith, which he would tell her later in life, precluded him from believing in magic. At that moment, Abigail wished he was hysterical like her … jumping up and down like her. But he wasn’t. It was almost as if he knew something she didn’t. In the end, to her horror, she would realize that he did.

With the fielders still glowing in their position and the home dugout still congratulating themselves, the very next pitch was crushed. The image of the centerfielder sprinting to the deepest part of the field and jumping at the wall as the ball cleared his glove by a good 10 feet was burned into her memory. She felt that same desperation as the centerfielder to bring the ball back, even against all hope. The pendulum of baseball had suddenly, if not predictably, swung back and crushed the faithful.

She found it odd when, as the rest of the crowd slumped in their seats or stood with their hands on their heads, her father stood up again and clapped. This time, he wasn’t smiling but yelled out words of encouragement.

The final out of the half inning came quickly, and in the bottom of the inning, the home team got to work quickly. They put runners on second and third with no outs and the stadium was buzzing again. A grounder and a popup quickly softened the mood of the stadium again, even with the clean-up hitter coming up. She suddenly realized that the previous pain and heartbreak from a few minutes before was just a setup for this moment. Every great story needs a moment when it seemed all hope was lost. She just knew that moment was this. She knew that the pivotal home run was about to come.

But it never did. The batter would strike out.

She refused to cry that night. She refused to believe that the game effectively ended their season. They were three games out, but wins in the next two games would have them back at one game with six more to play, half of them at home.

When they were blown out the next day, Abigail still refused to yield and kept on recalculating what they needed to do. When they won the third game, she knew they could make up three games with six to go.

It didn’t happen as the Boys could not seem to recover from the Friday night blast to center. Two nights and two losses later, they were officially eliminated as she quietly sobbed behind her father’s chair. She could not understand what had just happened. She could not understand how her team had lost. It boggled her mind and she struggled to cope with the emotions.

She was angry at her dad, as well. She felt like if he had gone crazy at the stadium, they would have won. She felt like had he shown a little more belief in the magic, the baseball gods would not be punishing them in such a harsh way. She felt betrayed by her father, by the magic, and by her team and she had never felt anything so awful in her life before.

Those moments were burned into her soul, but there have been countless heartbreaks since then. For true fans … the true believers, every loss is heartbreak. Every loss feels like something sharp to the chest. It was just a matter of degree. Getting blown out by a first place team from another division in the second week of the season feels like a sewing needle to the chest. Losing in the bottom of the ninth to your archrival when you have a lead and need to win to stay in the playoff hunt feels like an industrial chainsaw ripping through you.

That first big heartbreak gets scorched onto your baseball soul. It may even change you for life and change how you view everything. It is the true trial by fire. Many feel that first flash and walk away. Others continue through the fire, waiting for redemption because that is what baseball and sports are about. Failure. Redemption. Repeat.

After that first big heartbreak, losing never becomes easier. The second heartbreak hurts as much as heartbreak number 4,406. Age and perspective help, as does learning how to cope, but calyces never form even as the losses pile up.

Now, as an adult, Abigail would think back to those seasons before the heartbreak, and if she weren’t a logical person and if she hadn’t seen the team’s record for those years, her memory would let her believe that the team never lost.

But of course they lost, and as she grew older, they began to lose in earnest. “Who would hit the home run?” became “Who would commit the error?” which usually didn’t matter as the pitching staff seemed to get shelled on a regular basis.

Of course, the team wasn’t always that bad all the time. There were some years when they were the definition of mediocre. They won as many as they lost and there was nothing special about them, at least not to those outside of the fanbase.

As she got older, she began to understand the game more. Losing seemed to give her a bit of clarity on it. When you weren’t waiting for the long ball and anticipating your ace to strike out the next batter in a crucial situation, you noticed the smaller things. You noticed how some catchers are better at pulling a ball back into the strike zone than others. You notice how outfielders position and reposition themselves from batter to batter and even pitch by pitch. You notice the way certain pitchers shake off their catchers. You notice how a batter adjusts his stance a little when they have two strikes.

As she got older, and the lost games, lost series, lost seasons began to pile up, it seemed to mature her as a fan. They caused her to look at the game differently, to approach each strike, out, hit, and inning individually, instead of as a whole defined merely by whether you could chalk up a win or a loss. It became obvious in a lot of the seasons that the team was more likely to lose any particular game, and while she hoped for the win, she knew what the inevitable outcome was going to be. So she learned to love each moment of the game. She learned to love each fielded ground ball, long drive, and innings with long rallies.

As she got older, she became more mature as a fan. She soon realized that rooting for a winning team was easy. When things are going your way, it is easy to stand up and root for your team. Losing made her a better fan and she began to wear this as a badge of honor. When the team was failing, she took more pride in sitting through the games with her father. She now understood why he stood up and clapped as the world collapsed around their team. He appreciated a rally and an effort regardless of results.

Abigail also knew that when the team started winning again, it would be all the sweeter.

As she lay in bed that morning, with images of the last 22 games going through her mind, she thought about how this was all so new to her. It was new to everyone. Nobody knew how to deal with 22 straight losses. It was an unheard-of streak in baseball. Losing that many games in a row was a statistical improbability. Just like a winning streak that long is nearly impossible, so is a losing streak. A ball on the line, a pitcher having a bad day, even a bad call by an umpire. These are all things that send a game in one direction or another. No one loses 22 games in a row because when you have five starting pitchers and eight guys starting in the field, fresh arms in the pen, and someone on the bench ready to go, someone is bound to be on a hot streak. Someone, statistically, is going to be on a good streak. All 25 guys on a team don’t go cold at once … for 22 straight games.

So this was new and it occupied her mind much like a win would. It even captivated the city. The talk shows were going crazy, people at shared the type of laugh about it that someone might do at a wake, and the general mood of the city was down. She pondered if that was what it was like in the radius of the city, then what must it be like at ground zero.

She was able to get up and go to work and was paid to think of other things. Most of the city was allowed to go about their days and choose not to think about it if they didn’t want to. She pondered the people that work in the front office and realized they had no such choice. They were forced … they were paid … to think about just this. There was no hiding from it for them.

Suddenly, she felt like she needed to do something. So she picked up the phone, and feeling a little crazy, she decided that someone was going to get a pep talk. She didn’t care who it was. She didn’t even care if they said anything at all. So, Abigail picked up the phone and called the office of her team and immediately just started talking about her love of this team, regardless of wins or losses. She laid out as much of two generations of love as she could and told the poor soul on the other end to keep his head up and that better days were ahead.

When she hung up, she felt a sense of relief. She smiled to herself as she put down the phone. When she then turned to get ready for work, she found herself facing her son. She had not heard him come in and he was just staring at her. For years, she had not openly shared her love of this team and baseball with Brian. She knew it reminded him of that night and made him uncomfortable. She froze because she knew this and he had just witnessed her unleash a Shakespeare-worthy soliloquy about baseball to some stranger on the phone. She didn’t know what the impact on her son would be.

After what seemed like an eternity, he just looked up at her, smiled, and asked if he could go to a game with her.