Major League Baseball has been crippled by yet another players’ strike, and the fans have had enough, tired of paying to see ballplayers with seven-figure egos but ten-cent work ethics.
When baseball’s commissioner floats the idea of enlisting the minor leaguers to keep revenues flowing, Lew Pearson, the aging player-manager of the Triple-A Indianapolis Outlaws, sees his chance to fulfill a lifelong dream. Having never had more than a “cup of coffee” in the big league, Lew leaves his wife and two young kids behind to play in the bigs, even though he knows he and his teammates will just be the pawns of the owners. Baseball runs deep in his blood – his father’s own professional dreams were trampled on many years before – and despite the big asterisk that will accompany every game, it’s an opportunity that beckons him.
But no one, including Lew, the owners and the striking Major Leaguers, could predict how fans would embrace these farmhands, who take the field every day not for their big paychecks but purely for the love of the game. At first the crowds are small, but as the fan frenzy takes root in ballparks across the country, both sides of the strike confront a new normal, and an audacious plan takes shape in board rooms to determine once and for all whether the Major Leaguers or the minor leaguers will get the privilege of remaining in “the show.”
Gary Frisch is a long-time sports fan with a special place in his heart for hockey and baseball. A lifelong writer and former journalist, he has contributed many articles and columns to a variety of newspapers and magazines. He was inspired to write Strike Four as a result of multiple player strikes and lockouts that marred baseball in the 1980s and ‘90s, during which the media frequently speculated that owners might bring up minor league players to fill the rosters.
Frisch works in the public relations field, and has owned his own PR agency since 2007. In 2015, he was named to Linkedin’s inaugural list of “Top Voices of the Year” for his contributions to the business networking site’s blog. He lives in Gloucester Township, New Jersey, with his wife and two children, and frequently writes under the watchful eye of his cat and two dogs.
For a high school English assignment we had to write something that incorporated multiple senses, and I’ve enjoyed doing that ever since. For that assignment, pegged to the novel The Scarlet Letter, I wrote about the visceral feelings of standing on a gallows, the hangman’s noose slipping around your neck. But here’s another, more pleasant, subject, from my other favorite sport, hockey:
The goaltender peered through his mask at the opposing player twitching, awaiting the whistle to skate the puck in one-on-one. The fans’ yelling became a low-frequency hum in his ears, as he focused on his opponent. He felt a lone bead of sweat roll down the bridge of his nose, catching on his upper lip, but refused to be distracted. His pads, gloves, and other protective gear weighed around 20 pounds empirically; at this moment they may as well have been made of lace, for all the impact they had on his body. He shuffled his feet, tight in his skates, in anticipation and, he hoped, intimidation, signaling his readiness to explode left or right, lunge, or split as the case may be. A fleeting smell of popcorn hit him from the nearby stands, joining in with the miasma of men’s sweat lingering over his goal crease. The whistle. Bring it on…
Strike Four A Baseball Novel
It was hot out for an evening ball game, but Lew didn’t have time to think about the weather, or what was being said up in the booth. The ballplayer part of his brain took over, processing everything around him in an orderly queue of stimuli. The lights surrounding the stadium turned dusk into day, creating the illusion from his viewpoint that the infield dirt was actually a reddish-orange. A slight breeze rustled his uniform sleeves, and his nostrils were momentarily assaulted with the greasy smell of hot dogs being cooked up in the stadium’s concourse. And of course mosquitoes pestered him. That surprised him, as he always assumed the Major League had somehow found a way to keep the annoying bugs at bay.