Two-Seam Fiction: Crack of the Bat

 

 

They all heard the crack of the bat. The banker in section 117 picked his nose up out of his email folder, eyes flitting for a sight of the ball.

He’d been kicking himself for even coming to the game, for leaving the office early to momentarily escape his mounting to-do list. He’d pay for that tomorrow, he knew, probably with a 12-hour shift. It’s not like he even let himself relax, checking his phone every two minutes to make sure his bosses hadn’t sent him anything pressing.

The Reds were losing anyway, down 6-2 in the sixth, one of those scores that keeps fans from leaving early but makes an actual, game-winning comeback improbable. Leake had struggled again—he didn’t trust himself right now, you can see it, that slight kink in his windup. Would it kill the G-D offense to provide the run support once in a while?

But hey, the banker had season tickets, an old Christmas present for a since-college-departed-son that he kept more out of habit than anything else. And they went to waste far too often as it was.

Wow, look at that ball go.

The elementary school teacher up in section 531 rose to her feet as soon as Votto made contact, knew it was gone before anybody else in the stadium. She started whooping before the ball even cleared fence.

She’d tucked her blonde hair beneath a faded red ballcap and brought along a less-than-enthusiastic work friend for cover, but the bros one row back and a few seats down started hitting on them before the end of the first inning. They thought it was cute, they said, that she was so invested in the game, bringing along her own scorebook; they didn’t heed her protests as they flopped into the empty seats beside she and her friend.

The bros assumed, wrongly and for whatever reason, that she needed telling which was a ball and which was a strike, what a triple meant. She could’ve recited the entire 1990 World Series roster from memory, but it wasn’t worth the effort. One guy was particularly persistent. She wasn’t rude enough to cut him off until Votto stepped in. Votto was her favorite player—there was something scholarly about the way he broke down opposing pitchers, reading their strengths and weaknesses. He was always learning, and she could relate.

She scooted up to the edge of her seat when the count went 2-1, began to rise as soon as she saw the hanging curve.

The long-lost friends in section 143 followed the arc of the ball, could tell it was headed their way. They’d scalped these tickets just before first pitch, having ran into each other at a bar an hour or so earlier. One was in town on business, in marketing, stunned to see a friendly face. The other had settled in the city, was active in the community, stunned to see his.

They had been best friends during their freshman year in college, two out-of-state kids who clung to a fellow outsider. They helped each other through the hard parts, started to diverge when things got easier.

The friends had different interests, joined different clubs, made friends who shared similar passions. They were still cool, for sure, nodded at each other in the dining hall, even met up for beers every once in a while. But they were no longer close enough to warrant keeping in touch after graduation. They hadn’t seen each other in more than a decade. The coincidence was so surprising that they decided to make the most of it, catch a ballgame, still giddy from their chance meeting. One was reaching for his pocket and the cell phone picture of his two little girls when they heard bat make clean contact with ball.

The investment advisor behind the third-base dugout…

The construction worker in the nose bleeds…

The travelling Giants fan down the left-field line…

The cynic in the luxury box…

The romantic behind the right-field foul pole…

The kid eating ice cream out of a plastic helmet bowl…

The grown man eating a frankfurter…

They all heard the crack of the bat.

Matt Pentz is a Nuxhall Way contributor and a reporter for The Seattle Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattpentz.

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