Fiction from NER 37.3
If you play baseball, you know about sportsmanship. Baseball is a game of lines and rules and you allow the home team to have the last ups and after the last out in the ninth inning you file by the opposing team in the infield, win or lose, and you say, “Good game, good game,” and you know the whole procedure is an exercise in what is right. You played hard and you either won or you lost and it had been a good game. Baseball is a good game. The season I played with the Molybdenum Miners in the Mineral League was not about any of these things.
There were some days that August when it looked like the Mollys might win. One time we were ahead four to one going into the eighth inning, but we saw it slip away. It always slipped away. It had been such fun for a while that spring, standing out by second base in a clean uniform playing for the Miners and getting paid (a little) to do so. At all times I knew where Tilda Welk, the owner’s daughter, was, up in the organ booth playing little this-and-thats all through the game. I swear sometimes when I looked up there, she was looking at me. A girl in the stands is a powerful thing. If there is a girl up there anywhere every player on the field knows she’s looking at him. But I had spoken to Tilda, once, at our meet-and-greet barbeque at Mercury Meadows on opening day. I’m shy, but I told her I was hoping I’d see her from time to time. She said, “Get some hits and maybe I’ll be wanting your autograph.”
Ron Carlson is the author of six story collections and six novels. His fiction has appeared in the Atlantic, Esquire, Harper’s, the New Yorker, and many others, and has been selected for The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, and more. He is the Director of the Graduate Program in Fiction at the University of California, Irvine, and lives in Huntington Beach, California.