The Waning Gibbous moon hung over the stadium like an over-anxious fan. While fans were caught off-guard by the unexpected cold snap, sweatshirts and blankets were flying off the venue store's shelves. The food vendors couldn't keep up with the coffee and hot chocolate orders. In the concourse, long lines formed. Increasing heart rates and breathing, positive energy, the excitement was palpable. The din of the crowd hummed and roared in anticipation of the opening game of the season.
Biting winds swept through the stadium, and the crowd noticed the change in temperature. With teeth-rattling, the fans shook and shivered wrapping themselves in their new blankets.
At the close of the opening day ceremonies, the first ball of the game was thrown. The batter swung and missed. When the bat made contact with the ball, the CRACK sounded and could be heard throughout the stadium. Crack! Crack! Crack! Fly balls and pop-ups were hit and caught. No runs! No Hits! No errors! Nobody left on!
After the sixth inning, the game was scoreless. Frozen silence echoed through the stadium. The home team pulled their pitcher.
If management knew about the tension between Matt, their rookie catcher, and Roger, their veteran pitcher, no one was talking.
Walking to the mound, once there, Roger picked up the resin bag tossing it three times in the air. Sticking out from under the ball cap, his dark black hair moved to and fro with the wind.
Behind home plate, Matt's facial expressions gave his thoughts away.
Roger, why don't you retire? You have seen better days. Give your lanky body a rest and give it up! Good grief, Roger you are thirteen years older than me. How long are you going to continue to pitch in the show?
Once in position, Roger tossed a sinker, and the batter swung. Roger moved around the pitcher's mound in deep thought.
Why did they start off the season with an inexperienced catcher? Sure, the redhead's dad was a legacy catcher for the team. Someday, your dad will be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. But, Matt, you are lightyears away from being that talented.
It's been easy for you. You have been on the fast track. You never had to pay your dues by working your way up in the minors like everyone else. Unbelievably, you are right out of Junior College and playing in the majors. You are so new, I can smell the oil on your leather.
Before being called up to the show, I paid my dues with three years in the minors. Because of your dad, Matt, you have been given everything. Besides, you are a taker.
Roger delivered two more 4 seam fastballs. The first batter at the top of the seventh inning was out. The second batter did a punchout. Then, the third batter slammed a cutter to the left field and made it to first base.
Matt signaled for a changeup.
Roger shook his head.
No! You should have signaled a pitch-out. What the h***? I know what's happening. I know that the runner on first will try to steal second. I'll send this ball in so you can pick the runner off going to second.
Oh no! Matt you dumb ass! You hurled that ball overthrowing second. Now, the runner made it to third base.
With a few practice swings, the fourth batter approached the plate. Matt signaled for a yakker.
I've given the right pitch signal. This will make up for the overthrow and error. This guy will swing while looking.
Okay, you asked for it! You are a twenty-one-year-old green-horn who needed to spend some time in the minors. Did you forget that there was a runner on third? Dang! Earlier, you made a two-base error. You should know what's happening on the field. Where did you learn how to play baseball?
With the batter hitting to the far right corner, the third base runner scored.
Matt, you called the wrong pitch. Now, they scored! Are you proud of yourself, Matt?
The fifth batter swung three times resulting in a punchout that ended the seventh inning.
Hanging his head, Matt ambled towards the dugout. No words were exchanged.
Suddenly, their team's bats went silent. The offense wasn't able to make it to first base.
Top of the eighth, Roger struck out the first two batters. Marching to the plate, the third batter didn't swing at the sinker. Fouled on the slider. The count was one and one. The umpire signaled two more balls. On the fifth pitch, which was a sinker, the umpire signaled that the pitch was a ball allowing the batter to walk to first. Matt knew it was a strike. However, any experienced catcher knew not to argue with the umpire.
What are you doing Matt? You have your back to me. Arguing with the umpire isn't a good thing. Matt, you are in need of anger management classes.
The umpire signaled that the catcher was ejected from the game.
With a runner on first, Roger wiped his forehead and lifted his ball cap.
When the catcher was thrown out of the game, the action triggered a reaction. Right or wrong, the manager walked towards the hill.
Dang! I should have seen that coming. Matt, you are such a fool. Here comes the manager. He's almost here. His arm and hand are reaching out.
In baseball, there's no arguing with the manager.
Holding his head up high, without a word to the manager, Roger handed him the ball.
♣ ♠ ♠ ♠
Author's notes: The story was written for the unspoken challenge. This story included baseball slang jargon. The following words were used:
Hill - is the pitcher's mound.
Leather - is a glove.
Punchout - is a strikeout.
The show - is the Major Leagues.
Yakker - is a curveball pitch.
For more baseball slang, you can click here.
Appreciate the read.
Mahalo and aloha!
About the Creator
Barbara J Iversen, also known as Babs Iverson, lives in Texas and loves her grandkids to the moon and back. After writing one story, she found that writing has many benefits especially during a pandemic and a Texas-size Arctic Blast.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters