“Going, going, it’s outta here!”
The elated voice of announcer Jim Elden blared out over thousands of radios throughout Indianapolis and her suburbs,alerting fans of the Outlaws’ progress in a game they now trailed by just two runs. Things had changed dramatically since the fourth inning, when the normally tight-fisted team lost its composure and fell behind five to one. Here, in the eighth, the score six to four, it looked as though the Outlaws could salvage this one. The team that had led its division for most of the season was known for its ability to come from behind, having done so for victory twenty-six times so far. Perseverance and a never-say-die attitude had brought the fans in this year. Most of the time they left feeling they’d received their money’s worth.
Lew Pearson watched the game from the dugout and, like the other 6,000 plus souls in the stadium, was charged by this latest development. Nobody out. He hoped he’d get to bat this inning, get another chance to contribute. After all, that was the goal of every ballplayer from little league to the Majors: to simply contribute. Whether in the form of a home run, a sacrifice fly, or even a walk. Lew bit his lower lip as he watched and wondered. Just how long could he keep contributing? The question irritated him even more than the mosquitoes zipping around the outfield. Here, on the bench, he could optimistically say a year or two. Lying in bed at two in the morning it was a different story altogether. He often lay awake while his wife slept soundlessly, wondering if tomorrow would be the last day of his playing career. Upper management couldn’t be toasting his performance this season. For all he knew, they could be discussing his release this very moment in that box perched 95 feet above home plate. That would prove it once and for all, what he had suspected the last season and a half. And if management is not the cause of his retirement, it could be that other insensitive, unbiased force. At age 38 it takes a lot longer for a pulled hamstring to heal itself; a wretched knee or sprained thumb might never return to one hundred percent. And in his absence any young call-up from Double A would surely find a firm foothold in left field, a patch of grass he himself once dominated with the relentlessness of a feudal lord.
Now the grass grew up around him, causing him to trudge through it instead of fly over it like he once did. Once a swift gazelle, he was now a lumbering elephant, kept in the lineup mainly for his leadership and occasional ability to plaster the ball. Besides that, he was a damned good manager. Standings don’t lie.
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