Here I stand, on the brink of immortality. Three outs, no more, no less. No problem. A little flutter from the butterflies in my stomach, but they're not bad. Three outs at a time, trot out, trot back in. I've done this many times I tell myself, no sweat. How did I get here? It was a Saturday afternoon doubleheader against Niles and we had just won the first game. Off to the side of the dugout was our bullpen (or lack thereof) and it took three different catchers to warm me up that morning.
[...] Just great. He had a triple and a double in the first game, who wouldn't want to face the guy in the first inning? I sent one in the dirt and then one high, a bad harbinger for the rest of the game. It got worse as I gave him a 2-0 fastball up in the zone. Not good. There is an instant on every pitch where you simply know it should work or it shouldn't. It only lasts for approximately 0.2 seconds (according to physicists), but this was not where I had wanted it. [...]
[...] Every inning had been simple, three at a time, no more. I had luck on my side by chance; I mean that in all sincerity. There is an unwritten rule in baseball that is about as funny as any rule in any rulebook anywhere. During a no-hitter, nobody is supposed to mention a word of it to anybody. With any syllables referring to any part of a pitcher's performance with any implied/unimplied, underlying tones, up to and including talk not directly to the pitcher about a hint of his feat-in-progress, then it was almost impossible to complete one. [...]
[...] All the while, nobody on the team except for me has noticed that they have no hits. I wrapped up the seventh with the perilous flyball, the strikeout, and the routine grounder to second, at which my stomach exploded, but nobody else did, so I jogged off like usual. I walk off to Coach Harshbarger. “Nice shutout,” he says, shaking my hand. there were no hits either.” “They had no hits either,” You're kidding, huh? You mean you threw a no hitter?” By now, some of my other teammates had noticed our little conversation and were figuring it out for themselves. [...]
[...] I think I've changed my mind and want to start throwing strikes on purpose. I forgot that was my goal.” “Whatever.” Back to the 7th. I had just survived the biggest scare of my fifteen year- old life and now I was moving on. I had decided that I was not going to let anybody get in my way. Seventh inning, one out. Strike one, ball one, strike two, and then came strike three. Two outs. Cue the tense music. [...]
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