Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SINKER ~ By Michael Terence McNerney . . . an AT THE BIJOU stunning Debut

HEY PITCHER, PITCHER ~ ala Cavan Images

“SINKER”
Introducing ~ Author 
Michael Terence McNerney

     Jamie Dobbins’ stunned expression told only half the story.  The glazed look on the batter’s face, arms still frozen in the cocked position with bat in hand, completed the picture.
As the dust danced wildly, weightlessly from the catcher’s mitt and time reallocated itself, the batter – the most feared hulk in high school baseball – heard the pop of the ball fusing to the glove, followed by that long, echoing drawl, “Steeeerrrriiike!  Yerrrrrout!”
Looking up to Jamie, who was still regaining his balance on the toe of the pitcher’s mound, all that mighty Casey could do was shake his head and sulk back to the dugout, dragging a furrow across the dirt with his bat.
A gangly kid with a matted broom of red string shocking from under his Schoolfield High School Buckaroos cap, Jamie snapped back to reality when Buddy Simmons, the locomotive in a chest protector who caught that textbook pitch just as he had the other 80 before it, steamed up from home plate, smacking into him and lifting their newfound hero, shaking him like a puppy.  The rest of Jamie’s teammates piled on to express their elation and admiration for the kid that, at the beginning of the school year, was laughed off the field.
At 13, Jamie started high school younger than most.  Tall for his age and still growing, he was an unwieldy child.  Girls giggled as the other boys ridiculed him.
Barrymore ala Tiberiopencilart
Since he was a baby, the only thing that made Jamie happy was throwing a ball.  Before he could stand, Jamie’s dad would set him on the lawn, give him a ball and release Barrymore, the golden retriever, who always had a smile as he’d prance out to play fetch.  For hours, Jamie would throw the ball and Barrymore would bring it back, drop it in his lap and plant a slurp-kiss across Jamie’s head.
All those years, Barrymore’s attention never waned in the game because, as much as Jamie loved to throw, he had horrible aim.  It was always an adventure for the retriever, never knowing where the ball might go next. Even as Jamie got older, the rubber bands strung on toothpicks that were his arms, had little control.  When Jamie was old enough for little league, he would always end up on the dweeb team with every game ending in the mercy rule.
But his love of throwing could not be tarnished.
One morning, early in his freshman year, Jamie was doodling a picture of a baseball during morning announcements.  Just after hearing about the pea chowder and salmon surprise, Jamie perked up as the voice of the Mr. Schwartz, his history teacher and coach of the Junior Varsity baseball team, blasted from the ceiling speaker.
“Hey jocks, come try out for the J.V. team on the practice diamond behind the track.  Four o’clock today.”
For Jamie, the hours that day dripped achingly along.  All he could do was think about the tryouts.
At four o’clock, Jamie stood by the diamond, waiting.  His gray gym shorts and white t-shirt hung on his stick-man figure like they were line-drying, flapping in the breeze.  The other boys played catch with each other, but Jamie, the odd-man out, tossed the ball to himself.
When Mr. Schwartz’s beer-gut crossed the track flanked by two assistants, Jamie came to attention.  Coach blew his whistle to gather the other boys.
“This is where it all starts,” Coach said.  “If you want it bad enough, you’ll feel the burn.”
Jamie had felt the burn his whole life.  There were kids better than him, but he was determined.
The coaches sorted the wannabes by position.  Jamie jogged enthusiastically to join the pitchers and catchers, since all he ever wanted to do was throw.
Looking up from his clipboard, Coach Schwartz scanned the boys in front of him.  Jamie’s eyes followed.  Seven buff, young teens and four burly kids he assumed were catchers.
Jamie watched all the other pitchers take their turns.
“Dobbins!  Let’s see it,” shouted the coach.
Jamie ran to the mound and stared down his catcher, Buddy, like a hawk honing in on a rabbit.
Jamie stretched back and hurled the ball.  Buddy dove wide left to snag it.  The next pitch went even wider right.  Buddy was getting a workout.  Now Jamie was serious.  Reaching back for everything he had, he whipped the ball, straight into the dirt, ten feet in front of the plate.
Watching Jamie’s awkward gyrations, the coach had seen enough.
“Okay, Dobbins.  Hit the shower.”
Jamie’s heart sank.
That night, after staring, dejected, at his dinner, Jamie pulled out his history book to study for Mr. Schwartz’s quiz on the middle-ages.  As his mind wandered, something on the page caught his eye.
“A catapult,” Jamie muttered, restarting his brain.
He got up and went to the mirror.  In slow motion, he watched the positions his arm wound through as he pitched.  He finally understood his own body.
Grabbing his mitt and ball, he ran from the bedroom.
“Barrymore. Let’s go play catch.”
The old gray companion slowly worked through his now ancient, arthritic aches to follow Jamie for the game he loved as much as his master.
The next day, Jamie arrived at school early.  Bolting down the hall, he swung wildly around the doorframe into the history classroom.  Mr. Schwartz glanced up from the papers he was grading.
“Coach, I need another chance,” insisted Jamie.
Mr. Schwartz was intrigued.
Eight months later, a gangly kid with a matted broom of red string shocking from under his hat, stood on a pile of dirt in the middle of a grass field, reared back, storing a mass of energy and, with perfect form, catapulted a white projectile for the eighty-first time across the plate, at the last micro-second, dropping below the batter’s expectation.  And with that perfect pitch, in that perfect game, Jamie Dobbins became the hero of Schoolfield High by transforming a sunken heart into a perfect sinker ball. 
THE PERFECT SINKER ... ala aig82

This perfect last at bat, bottom of the 9th, full-count swing and outta-da-park hit came from "the writer guy colleague" in Richard Johnson's office ~ now, trustfully a regular around here, AT THE BIJOU. Yessiree, the debut of Michael Terence McNerney is a designated hit! When the anchor trio to Jeanette and Richard's "HOOK, LINE & SINKER" lost his computer access, Michael stepped up to the plate and flexed his writing vibes as a pinch-hitter par excellence, sending his piece sailing out over the wild blue yonder as the perfect triple for this talented triumverate. Yes, now it's a whole new ballgame and we sure want him to hang out through the playoffs . . . 

Want to know a little more sheen under the spotlights about Michael? (I sure do!) ~

MICHAEL TERENCE McNERNEY survived his English teacher telling him, “You could have been a good writer if you’d only started ten years earlier,” by having a successful career writing and producing commercials.  He did, however, abide by the wishes of an Art teacher who said, “If you become a truck driver, I’ll kill you.”  Married to a professional opera singer, Michael currently splits his time between Chicago and L.A., working as a film/TV producer and assistant director.  He occupies his spare time with nature photography, for which he has multiple honorable mentions in the International Photography Awards and is currently a finalist in the Photographer’s Forum Magazine photo contest.  Michael also writes screenplays and short stories when he’s not wiping cat hair from his computer screen.
 
  
Thanks and WELCOME Michael! 
Do make our theatre
your new dugout to dig into!
 
~ Absolutely*Kate
and our fine staff of renown
*AT THE BIJOU*
 

7 comments:

Bukowski's Basement said...

Nice to see you here at the Bijou, Michael...

Sugar said...

I'm going to root, root, root for the hometeam and Michael's writing! Loved this!

Jeanette Cheezum said...

Michael, this was quite a debut. I rooted for you. I thought at first Barrymore was going to get the ball at the wrong time when Jaimie tried out. So glad it wasn't predictable. I'm glad you took Richard's offer. I'm pleased to write along side of you two guys.

Harry said...

Nice job batting cleanup in the Hook, Line and Sinker series Michael! Great story!

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Michael, Michael, Michael! As a sports afficiando with a soft heart, intake of breath followed the clear cut catapault slow mo at the mirror scene. I was root, root, rooting along with your other assemblage of fan base AT THE BIJOU bleachers.

And dang it, you did it. With such class and distinction and brought that sinker all the way home ... a WINNAH!

So, I'm enticing you ~ you'll stay around here and hang with the always colourful, always illustrious band of writers and raconteurs (for Richard's sake)... not to mention us bon vivants ~ AT THE BIJOU, right? Popcorn's on the house and Ms Sugar just may let you know where the secret stash of MilkDuds are stashed -- if you smile at her real nice.

CONGRATS on photography awards and distinction coming up. Links! We need links to go see'ya the more.

THANKS AGAIN for how you grand slammed this HOOK, LINE & SINKER creative combo.

~ Absolutely*Kate
and our fine staff of renown,
~ AT THE BIJOU

Mike McNerney said...

Thank you all for your kind comments! I'm glad I took on Richard's challenge. It was fun writing this story and an honor to have you all read it.

foolishwriter said...

Mike-

As you know, I'm not a baseball fan, but I loved this story. A great piece of Americana. Thanks for joining us.

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