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The Unspoken Challenge

By Babs IversonPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - October 2023
Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

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. 

Matt thought.

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!

Short Story

About the Creator

Babs Iverson

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.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (54)

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  • Carlos Mesa Pla28 days ago

    Very hungry right now

  • Shirley Belkabout a month ago

    I love a good baseball story!!

  • Aleena Hudaabout a month ago

    Great Job Babs!

  • Mariann Carrollabout a month ago

    Someone is a great baseball fan 💓🥳Congratulations!!!!

  • Joe Pattersonabout a month ago

    Great story Babs. Congratulations on your top story🎉🎉🎉

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    Absolutely deserved top story with very realistic characters and great dialogue, I loved the last line and how you set up the scene!!💓💓

  • Gerard DiLeoabout a month ago

    Very nice pace and an eyeful into a secret world. Well done, Babs! Thanks suggesting it to me.

  • Rene Petersabout a month ago

    I'm not a sports person but I still became very invested in this! Congrats on top story too!

  • Frankie Martinelliabout a month ago

    I always love how descriptive your writing is. You are always able to create such a vivid picture for the reader! Appreciate you so much! This was so great ❤️❤️❤️

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Babs, I had to return and read this again. It is stuck I. My mind. This truly is a great piece of writing.

  • I love the internal monologue and frustration, even though I don't know baseball it still feels very relatable

  • Leslie Writes2 months ago

    I don’t know baseball, but you certainly do! I liked all the sensory detail and the tension between the two players. Nicely done 💖

  • Heather Hubler2 months ago

    Great one, Babs!! Congratulations on the Top Story for this wonderful piece :) My son played baseball for 12 years and always watches the professionals play. I appreciated the scene you built, the tension you created, and the silent misunderstandings. A joy to read :)

  • Jay Kantor2 months ago

    Dear 'b' ~ And there is NO Crying in baseball either: Since our 'BUMS' the Dodgers struck out in Mudville, I've become a Texas fan, out of respect for my friend, Babs! 'j

  • Brad Wright2 months ago

    good story and great tension between the characters

  • Kelly Sibley 2 months ago

    Ooooo this is good! You really captured the characters and their relationships with each other. Really, really Well Done!

  • Ryan Smith2 months ago

    Great use of space, action and fraying patience preventing the conversation from happening out loud. You really painted a vivid picture with the baseball slang.

  • Ashley Lima2 months ago

    Your imagery is incredible. Appreciate the definitions of the slang! Amazing entry to the unspoken challenge

  • Jason Ray Morton 2 months ago

    Nice. Not really a baseball guy but great story. I like the slang explanations.

  • Great job Babs!!! I am very familiar with the game and the jargon. I enjoyed your story quite a bit. Congratulations on your Top Story and good luck in the challenge!!!

  • Wow, you know your baseball, Babs. I confess I don't know it much at all, having been raised by wolves. But I have had the pleasure of seeing Pernoste's son pitch, who was phenomenal. Started to enjoy the game. You captured the silent communication between the pitcher and catcher so well for this competition (communication I didn't realize even happened until a couple years ago, LOL). And, even better, you brought out such a warm and nostalgic feeling for the game. I loved this. 💙Anneliese

  • Margaret Brennan2 months ago

    huh! reminds me of the OLD Brooklyn Dodgers. My dad always called them "da bums" but he still loved them . . . until they moved to Los Angeles. This is the typical game for them. LOVED it and it surely did bring back memories.

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Great story and great tension between the characters! I love the description of the fields in the beginning!!!

  • Paul Stewart2 months ago

    I'm not a fan of baseball and not very knowledgable but love your writing and was furious frustated along with Roger at Matt's stupid arrogance! congrats on an excellent TS and entry to the challenge!

  • Thavien Yliaster2 months ago

    Babs, this story took me back to my childhood days when I would re-watch the movie "The Sandlot" (1993) over and over again. That and of baseball games I used to go to in the stadiums at the [insert team name] stadium near the downtown area. The setting of the scene, it was like I could feel the cold. That was great. I gotta say, the slang jargon for this is spot on! I never played baseball in my later educational years, but I feel like this language is also more of a generational thing than just a sports thing. This story, makes You feel like You're there. Kind of like being an angel from that movie "Angel's In The Outfield" as we're watching over the shoulders of Roger and Matt respectively. As a youngin', I gotta say that the veterans will always have my respect for their dedication to their craft. Especially since even though people think that a veteran can't perform as well as a young one, but over the years their strength and power are almost firm and practically set in stone. Like for example older, veteran, boxers tend to have more powerful punches than younger boxes as they know where to make every ounce of force count. "You are so new, I can smell the oil on your leather." - When I read this line, I was like, "Ooooo! Roger knows how to make a pitch where it counts!" Also, Roger's been in the big leagues long enough to know not to talk trash but to let his work speak for himself. That's something every person should aspire to do. Allow the results to speak for themselves. Matt may be new, but I gotta a feeling that he didn't just become a catcher due to being daddy's boy possibly being seeded. He must have some skill as a catcher that advanced him past the minors into the big leagues. Stuff like that happens all the time. Phenoms are a natural occurrence even though they are rare. Still, I can't believe that Matt would argue with the umpire, let alone the manager. I get fighting for what's right, but in certain positions You learn to keep Your mouth shut and wow the crowd so much that their jaws hit the floor. That's this greenhorn's problem. He needs to put his catcher's mitt where his mouth is, or else he'll end up loosing a few pearly whites if he can't prove that he's got the skills to pay the bills. Excellent story, Babs! This definitely deserved a Top Story Spot! Keep up the magnificent work!

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