Those of you who know me know that I have talked about a science fiction baseball novel that I was writing. It’s an odd kind of genre actually and there hasn’t been a whole lot of work put into it. I’ve written about 50,000 words and as this is a baseball themed blog that’s already seen some opinion articles, some analysis and a wee bit of comedy, I thought I would give you a taste by posting the first chapter of my work. Feel free to send me feedback and let me know what you think. You can also subscribe to get future updates to this story and to other posts in the BergstromBlogs network.
Nolan Anthony Holt stood on the mound, his right cheek distended from a wad of stored bubble gum. Twenty-eight point nine degrees and sunny with no breeze and a few puffy white clouds for effect. The scoreboard read Wheaton: 2, Aurora: 0, framed by the weather dome’s projection of a perfect blue sky. The crowd hollered encouragement: to him, or to the batter, and all for the hope of their chosen team extending their regular season into the playoffs. Many people had their right arm raised in front of them, a salute of light blue lights, recording the moment with their comps for posterity. Holt stared in to his catcher, Scott, and nodded. The pristine white “W” displayed on LED on the front of his cap shimmered from the reflection of the stadium’s lights. Wisps of blond hair flailed out beneath the black baseball cap as Holt rocked back into his windup and pivoted his ankle. His right arm loaded with tension, and then released as he strode towards home. The batter’s swing was two seconds too late. Holt threw his glove up into the air and hollered. By the time the glove hit the ground, he had been mobbed by his teammates. Travis Scott led the charge, tossing aside his catcher’s mitt as he raced to the mound. Scott hollered as he hoisted Holt onto his shoulders. He kept one arm wrapped around Holt’s leg, the other Coach MacKlain beamed at Holt, then embraced him as the celebration progressed off the field.
Scott slapped Holt on the back as the procession neared the dugout, “You windmilled them Nolan! Swing and miss all night long!”
Ogden Redman applauded at the entrance to the dugout, dressed in a slick pair of slacks, purple business shirt and a black tie. The agent extended his hand to Holt as he entered the dugout. Holt slipped out from the arm Coach MacKlain had draped over his shoulders and shook Redman’s hand..
“Very nice job, Nolan.”, Redman pumped his arm gently as he shook Holt’s hand.
“Thank you, sir.”
Redman grinned, “I’m only eight years older than you, Mr. Holt. You’re the one on top of the world, right now. The best ever, even before The Split. It should be me calling you ‘sir’.”
“I know, sir. But I’m not in the majors yet, and still, you have helped me a lot.”, Holt beamed, flashing immaculate teeth.
Redman shook his head, “Nah, anyone who plays like you would get attention even without an agent. I just make sure they behave.”
“Ok, ok. I get the idea.”
“Nolan’s a splitter for that kind of stuff” Scott beamed, standing just behind Holt.
“I’ve gathered that, Mr. Scott.” Redman looked down at Scott, “Can you please excuse us, Mr. Scott? Mr. Holt and I have some business to discuss.”
“Yes, sir.” Scott piped, then walked down to the far end of the dugout to strip off his gear.
Redman turned towards Holt, “Anyway, Nolan, the scouts are here to facemeet you. Craig Dunbar is leading the cadre from Seattle, Jay Olensky and his people from the Portland Roses, Thomas DeHaven and the rest from Chicago… Pretty much every team placed a representative here, but those are the ones who matter most to you.”
“Every team, sir? Even though I’ve only comped with a few?” Holt looked upwards, over the dugout, to see the fifty or so grown men looking at him eagerly. Many of them held up their comps, the blue lights unblinkingly recording him. “I don’t get it.”
Redman spoke, “Holt, just because they can’t draft you doesn’t mean they aren’t baseball fans.”
Holt stepped down into the dugout and put his right arm through the sleeve of his jacket, then grabbed a barbell. His right hand dipped into the jacket pocket, extracting a baseball. He sat down on the bench and started doing curls with his left arm. The fingers of his right hand spiraled the ball in his palm as he changed between pitching grips. Holt’s eyes closed slightly as he worked.
“Mr. Redman, I wish Chicago had a shot. Closer to mom and dad, and all.”
Coach MacKlain sat down next to Holt and unzipped his jacket. Redman tucked his hands into his front pockets and looked at Holt. “They won the World Series last year, so they pick last. There’s no way you last that long in this year’s draft and I don’t think the other teams will trade their picks to Chicago out of spite. Seattle has first dibs anyway and they want you.”
“So, Seattle or college or both.”
“Well, you can take your classes online during the season and move to the campus during the offseason. Your stock is so high that there’s no reason to play college ball to increase your visibility. You already have that. You also risk injury playing for free if you play for a college. Of course, playing professional baseball is different than college ball. There’s a lot more traveling and that can interfere with your classes. Also, if you decide on college, you can pick a local one so that you remain close to home.”
Holt froze his grip on the baseball. “Coach?”
MacKlain stirred on the bench, “Heck, I’d love it if you stayed. Besides your talent, you have a good head on your shoulders. You could teach these kids a thing or two about hard work. But, you can’t make the majors staying home.”
Holt placed the barbell softly on the bench and set his jaw. “You’re right, Coach.”
MacKlain rose from the bench and looked over Holt, “I’ll see you on the bus.”
MacKlain pulled his outdoor suit off a peg and walked over to the scanner near the dugout exit. After MacKlain he kicked off his cleats and stepped into the suit, he looked over his shoulder to see Holt standing in front of the dugout, smiling at the eager, cheering scouts.
“Blacknosers”, MacKlain mumbled to himself. Yet, he still smiled as Holt waved his right arm at the crowd. Then, the chatter cut off as MacKlain sealed the visor of his suit shut.