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.
Often, those we brand "heroes" are found on the playing field, court, or hockey rink. But today, they're much more likely to be essential workers and health care professionals. Their sacrifices are far more meaningful than those of athletes, their impact on their fellow humans much more profound.
Today, I'm thinking about my sister, who works behind the scenes at a NJ hospital. She's not a medical provider, and doesn't directly see patients, but as worker in the facilities management department, she's responsible for keeping the lights on, the facilities clean and compliant, the air properly circulated, and the patients comfortable. Like all the other employees, she wears a face mask all day, and must ensure it stays usable for an entire work shift or more.
Heroes today take many forms; let's take a moment to appreciate those who may not be on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 but are doing their part to keep others safe, fed, comforted, and even entertained, often at the same personal risk as our doctors and nurses. Thank you, Arlene!
Strike Four A Baseball Novel
“I want you all to remember something the whole time you’re out there,” Lew went on. “Every one of those guys, every fucking last one of them, started out in the minor leagues and paid their dues there, like we’ve been. They are us a few years from now. And they’re only people, no matter how much money they’re making now or how many home runs they hit last year. Christ sake, I know some of you have played in the minors with some of the guys out there today. And they’re only here today because some scout had a plane to catch after the game and a single contract in hand and he went 3-for-5, while you were only 2-for-5 that night at the plate.” He paused dramatically, hands open in front of his chest. “One hit. It’s so insignificant,” he said incredulously, “what distinguishes them from you. The difference in pure talent between Triple-A and the Majors is negligible. More often than not, it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time, or getting that one extra base hit when the scout’s in the stands instead of on the concourse getting a hot dog.”