Saturday, July 29, 2017

armadilla: jeff first pitch night: meet ernie.

jeff played pro baseball, a pitcher, the height of his success when he played for the astros (in the rainbow jersey era) (see jeff's home office).  he has been in invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a minor league game in amarillo.

so happens a former teammate, for one season in toronto, is the third-base coach for the visiting team from el paso. they agree to meet for drinks in the bar of the hotel where jeff is spending the night.

ernie's path has been a roller coaster of mostly down lately, having blown money and three marriages,  all of which, added to alimony, takes a hefty portion of his pension. et cetera.

got the third base gig as a favor, pretty much, and he knows it. but he's been getting his shit together, "you can ask craigy." (craig is the manager of the amarillo team, who invited jeff to throw the first pitch, and who played with jeff at the university of arkansas.)

he drinks, and makes that apparent, and speaks of past womanizing and roars of crowds and "the best days of our lives, ain't that right, horns?"

we learn that colleen was an attorney in dallas when they met. ernie recalls "rachel?" and jeff corrects him with rachel and we learn it's law school at berkeley rebecca has gone off to. doesn't want to be an attorney, but wants the degree.

ernie inquires about bobby. jeff tells him. and about the porsche. jeff excuses himself to bed, hands ernie his card - jeff van horn, rhp, #56 - and tells him to be ready for company when jeff is in dallas in december for another ex-teammates baseball clinic.

but first, ernie revisits an occassion when jeff hit in the ribs with a ninety-three mile-an-hour fastball the opposing team's best and biggest hitter, their catcher, because, when ernie had been hit earlier, in the ankle - ernie was a base-stealing leader in the bigs - said catcher had made a remark that jeff overheard, unbeknownst to ernie.

a fond recollection that leads to laughter, one more shot (per ernie's suggestion), and a big hug.

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