Top of the First

In that silence, she swears she could hear Winter’s laugh. Winter waits for no one—except the Boys of Summer—and he will quickly gather them up the moment that hope dies. So he wastes no time nor sentiment as he gathers up yet another city and their faithful, unmoved that this park … this theater … this shrine is the Crown Jewel of baseball. The living, waking monument is merely Winter’s newest conquest, another land conquered. Throughout autumn, Winter takes one city after another, picking them off and growing his domain without mercy. All but one city will fall to Winter. Only one city will stand as baseball’s outpost in Winter’s wasteland. Only one city earns protection. Summer chooses just one city for her to live on through Winter’s onslaught. For all the rest, it’s just a matter of time.

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Middle of the First

Sometimes, he liked to paint his own images turning routine fly balls into slow-motion comets gleaming brightly in the sun against a dark blue sky. Every runner, even the catchers, went from home to first as gracefully as an impala through the rolling fields he just drove through. Shortstops moved as if in a ballet and soared into the air like eagles when turning a double play. The sun was always shining on the field and the stands were always filled to their absolute limits by men in shirts and ties and women in sundresses. The children all wore baseball caps and jerseys that were too big for them. Even the opposing players, who always wore menacing snarls with bloodshot eyes on stubbled faces, moved across the field in what seemed like choreographed motions.

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Bottom of the First

He rolled onto his back and stared up into the sky and the sun, and he unleashed a raw, guttural yell that seemed to make the entire stadium shake. The visiting team, for a moment, stopped their celebration. His teammates froze in the dugout as the trainer came to the top step.

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Top of the Second

As they got closer, chants started rising from the crowds, and a buzz of excited talk rose like a beehive. There was laughter and smiles and even the occasional somber old-timer. She particularly liked those fans. They liked to observe Opening Day like a religious holiday, celebrating rebirth, remembering players, moments, and seasons of the past while memorializing the heartbreaks that went before. Regardless of who they were or where they were from, they all excitedly made their way to the stadium, with her among them with her hand in her father’s hand.

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Middle of the Second

He wasn’t sure how the tan, yellow, orange, and black ticket stub had gotten into his Bible. He remembered driving with his friend, who had pulled it casually off his dash and told him to take it, telling him a story about going to the game with another baseball junkie. He no longer remembered the details but had thought it odd that his friend would have gone to the game. He never picked him to be much of a fan.

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Bottom of the Second

He pulled himself back to the present and spent the rest of that night staring at the ticket and rereading the article over and over. He hadn’t seen the ticket in seven years … he barely remembers sticking it in the scrapbook. By dawn, he knew what he had to do. He knew it was going to be a difficult battle, one that may even cost him what was left of their friendship, but he knew what must be done.

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