Posted by: Peadar Ban | June 24, 2012

Season Tickets

The weather broke on Friday, and things eased up from the midweek heat.  Clouds threatened rain and rumbled trouble, but no one really believed it.  We had seen it all before.

Saturday morning was cool enough to require blankets for the last hour or two of sleep.  As morning slipped into afternoon a few gangs of clouds opened up and dropped some rain on us.  But we were more than happy to see that happen.  Besides, we know about thunderstorms.  They blow and go!

By 5:00pm they did just that, leaving cloud mountains shining in the sun and lakes of powder blue sky all around.  And, that was exactly what we wanted to happen.

We were going to the game.  All of the evening games, except for those few played on Sunday, start at 7:05PM.  It gives Dad time to get home, I suppose. Still, when we finally drove out, traffic was terrible and it took us all of five minutes to get to the Stadium.  The beer was cold, though.  The dogs were hot like they should be and the rolls just as soft and soggy as pudding.  About every kid in the park, and there were plenty, between the ages of 5 and 14 trotted out onto the field between innings to play silly games or answer stupid questions for a few laughs and some free balls or T-shirts.

It was a close game until the bottom of the 7th when The Silver Knights, our team, stretched the lead to three runs with a lot of help from the opposing pitcher and a spectacular busted play at home; proving once again that in baseball as in life, as Professor Berra has said, “It ain’t over ’til the Fat Lady sings.”

This is what happened:

With two out in the inning, and no one on, our lead off batter, a little left fielder named Sean Lyons, a fireplug of a kid from just up the road, raced past second and kept on going on a short line drive to the  right corner which was misjudged by the right fielder from the Sharks, the team from Martha’s Vineyard.  Our second baseman, Logan Gillis, another local kid who is fast making something of a name for himself in our town, had hit the ball smartly.  You gotta think that one base is all most guys would take on a hit like that, but Lyons is a scrapper.

I think he wanted to make a point with their catcher.  I don’t know whether or not our coach at third was waving Lyons on or had put up the stop sign.  I was simply watching this kid churn around third like a switch yard engine that could.  And, he did.

The Sharks catcher, a big fella, who was at least a foot taller than Lyons, had moved up the line almost half-way to third to defend.  The ball came into him like a rope just as Lyons finished his club-house turn for the finish line.  The big guy turns and here comes Lyons.  I’m thinking I hear a couple of bells, and maybe see a gate go down across the path.  It don’t matter at all, though.

With the Ump keeping pace and a bunch of Sharks closing in on him, Lyons adjusted his course and crashed into the catcher who tried to side-step him and make a two handed play, tagging him as he went by.  But, Lyons put a nice hit on the catcher’s left side knocking the ball out of his hand and mitt.  The kid never even broke stride until he left his feet about what looked like three yards from the plate and flew into it, landing with a ground shaking “WHUMP!” while two or three Sharks infielders scrambled between the plate and the mound in panic.  They were trying to get the ball to the pitcher at home who could have better used his time a few seconds ago not allowing the hit that lit up the place like the 4th of July.

Lyons walked off pumped and covered with home plate dirt.  It was the cleanest the plate had been since the game started.  The whole team turned out in a jumping mass to greet him with high fives.  He disappeared into the dugout with a look of ferocious triumph.  Gillis, who had taken third during all of the action, died there as the next batter up fanned in three quick pitches.

In the top of the eighth, Lyons played hero again with a leaping catch of a hot liner down the left field line, a rope strung out about three feet off the ground, to end the inning.  The home team added two insurance runs in the bottom half of the inning.

The ninth opened with the same pitcher who relieved in the eighth for us, a fellow from New Mexico named Rocha.  He looked pudgy, soft and sneaky; deceptive.  He had guys swinging in the eighth at pitches that took so long to get there from him you could have eaten a sandwich while waiting.  The Sharks first batter was true to form; jumping on every pitch.  I think he’d made three strikes before two balls had been thrown.  The next batter got to first on a short line drive to right, and one or two folks who were heading to the parking lot decided to sit and wait to see what might come next.

It was nothing much; a game of catch while the batter looked on.

The final out of the inning for the Sharks was a called strike out on four soft, sneaky curves.  OK, so no one is perfect.  And like that it was over. Yeah, just like that with the last batter dragging his club in the dirt alongside him, and “Manana” Rocha easing himself down from the mound.  He should have been wearing a sombrero.

We left our seats and began the short walk out to our car waving to a few friends and old time fans of home-town ball like us.  The kids ran around between the old folks, everyone smiling and saying, “What a great game,” and at the gate the ushers said, “Good night.  Thanks for coming.”  And we told them we’d be back.

It was about 9:20 and a bit of daylight hung on way down west.  Over east a little, about a third of the way up the sky, a crescent moon smiled on the end of a darn good day.

I drove out of the parking lot past the basketball courts and the city pool, the playground where I took the kids to play when they were little, out onto the street and along past our parish church.  We were home before the stadium lights were out.

We’ll be back.  We have season tickets.


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