Don't Look Back
By John Jos. Miller
Even the most casual baseball fan has heard of Satchel Paige, or at least bits of his legend. About how he placed a gum-wrapper on home plate and threw three strikes in a row over it to win his first pro contract. About how he’d call in his outfielders and proceed to strike out the opposing side on nine pitches. Of his multiple no-hitters and two thousand wins. Well, legends are bound to be exaggerated. The truth is actually stranger and much more impressive. I know. I was there at the beginning and at the end, and much of the in-betweens.
 I travel a lot for work and, by its nature, it can be very stressful. Everyone deserves a little relaxation from time to time. I find mine in baseball, in following teams and favorite players through the ups and downs of the long season. I was always a big fan of Satchel Paige. He faced great adversity and came out of the relative obscurity of what they called the Negro Leagues to become one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Paige was also a legendary raconteur. He summed up his approach to life in a few simple rules. One of them began, “Don’t look back,” and ended, “Something may be gaining on you.”
Paige would know. But his story is much more complicated than you think.
Mobile, Alabama, July 1918
Satchel Paige was not surprised to discover that the Devil was a white man.
He looked around in the darkness, wondering where he was and how he’d gotten there. He’d been home, in bed in the three-room shotgun shack he shared with his mother and ten siblings. Sleep wouldn’t come because the next day they were going to take him away to the Alabama Reform School For Juvenile Negro Law-Breakers for a five-year sentence, mainly for cutting school. But also, he had to admit, occasionally boosting suitcases from the train depot where he’d acquired his nickname Satchel, when he worked as a porter.
He was eleven years old —he’d be twelve in a week or so— and desperately afraid and lonely, frantically trying to concoct a plan to escape his fate. Any plan. He remembered the sweat dripping off him in the crowded bedroom, running into his eyes and mixing with his tears, and then— and then, a warm but soothing night breeze. Dirt under his bare feet. The salt smell of the ocean in his nostrils and the soft sound of gentle waves lapping the near-by shore. He found himself standing at a crossroads near Mobile Bay. The only light came from the stars and a full moon that hung closer than seemed normal, and before him stood the Devil. Satchel was sure it was the Devil. He had no doubt of that.
The Devil was as tall as Satchel, who was already six feet, though he probably had forty pounds on the scrawny boy. He was dressed fancy in a faultless evening suit of a style that Satchel had sometimes seen on Mobile gentry. He didn’t have horns nor tail nor red skin. He had regular, almost handsome features, but his face was terribly pock-marked by what looked like smallpox scars. His skin was sallow in the light of the full moon, adding to his sinister appearance. When Satchel looked him in the eyes, he knew that he was the Devil. There was nothing remotely human in them.
Satchel felt he had to say something. “Why are you here, Devil?”
The other laughed, more with derision and scorn than humor. “Morningstar has more important things to deal with than little colored boys. My name is Prince Hal. I’m here to help you.”
“Prince Hal?” Satchel repeated, and cursed himself for sounding stupid. This was the strangest, the realest dream he’d ever had. The sights, the sounds, the smells. It was so real he could reach out and touch this fellow. He did reach out, then his hand dropped back to his side. He didn’t want to confirm this reality. 
“How can you help me, mister? Paige said. “They’s sending me away tomorrow for five years. And I didn’t do nuthin’!”
Prince Hal laughed. “Don’t add lying to your sins, boy,” he said. 
Satchel was cowed and confused. He looked down. “Well, all right,” he said in a small voice. But his anger flared up again. “But when I get out— "
“Yes, yes,” Prince Hal said in a bored drawl. “You want revenge. You want to be rich and powerful. You want to be famous. In other words, the usual.”
Satchel shook his head. “I just want to be a ballplayer,” Satchel said.
“What?” Prince Hal asked. “Like the white boys?”
“I’m better than most all white boys anywhere near my age,” Satchel said. 
Prince Hal grinned sardonically. “You’re asking a lot, you know. A skinny little darkie like you. Still...I might be able to help. You know what it’ll cost you, though.”
“My soul?” Satchel whispered. He wasn’t religious, probably less so than most, but he hesitated. He had great hopes, with little chance of achieving them. Playing in the major leagues was a dream denied to colored boys. And being torn from friends and family and everything he knew would considerably worsen the slight chance of success he reckoned he had. 
“I’ll tell you what,” Prince Hal said as Satchel hesitated. “I’ll make you a deal. I’m a bit of a baseball crank myself, so call on me when you need help, anytime, and I’ll fix you up.” He smiled his insincere smile. “That’s the deal of a lifetime, boy.”
There was no one else to turn to. And the loss of a soul far in the future seemed like a little thing to Satchel. “All right,” he said.
Prince Hal reached into the pocket of his fancy evening jacket and pulled out a folded piece of parchment. His grin was almost real now.
“You’re a smart boy. Sign here.” Prince Hal pointed to the bottom of the page with a pen he’d taken out of his pocket along with the document.
Up close, Satchel could feel a wave of coldness waft off Prince Hal like a breeze blowing through an ice house. Strange, he thought, for the Devil to be so cold. But on the other hand, Satchel was more than a little relieved that he didn’t have to sign in his own blood. He squinted at the words on the page, but they were written in a fancy, crabby script that was impossible to decipher in the shifting moonlight. 
He signed “LeRoy Paige” in his smooth, neat handwriting, his relief vanishing as the letters he wrote burst into flame that did not consume the paper they danced on. Prince Hal refolded the contract and stuck it back in his jacket pocket with the pen he’d also plucked from Satchel’s hand.
“See you in twenty, boy,” Prince Hal said, and disappeared.
What?, Satchel thought. He opened his eyes to see his mother by his bedside, shaking him gently by the shoulder.
“Time to get up, LeRoy,” she said in her soft, sad voice. “They’s here.”
Satchel got up and dressed in a daze. His mother handed him a brown paper bag into which she’d packed his extra pair of pants, his two extra shirts, and some socks and underwear. He was hungry as always, but the truancy police were impatient to be on their way, and there was no time for breakfast and, anyway, little to eat if there was. Satchel barely had time to hug his mother and wave goodbye to the siblings who stood together in a silent knot, watching him walk away.
It would be almost five years before he saw his mother again. 
Kansas City, August 1939
The pain was excruciating and it wouldn’t go away. It’d been in Satch’s arm for a long time, almost two years now. He sat alone in the Baby Monarchs’ bullpen, watching the team warm up for a game he probably wouldn’t get into. They were J. Leslie Wilkinson’s second-string team. Wilkinson also owned the great Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League. The Baby Monarchs were a comedown for the caliber of pitcher Satchel had become, but Wilkinson was the only owner who’d take a chance on his sore arm, and even that chance was dwindling. He wouldn’t wait much longer for it to come around. For two years now, Satchel had done a little pitching here and there, getting by on guile and guts, but he knew that even Wilkinson’s patience would run out soon, and he’d cut the injured star loose.
Satch realized that it was partly his fault. Not the injury. Why that happened when it did was anyone’s guess. A sore arm was common enough among pitchers. Right after he’d jumped to the newly-formed Mexican League, Satchel had heard something in his shoulder snap while he was breaking off a curveball. The sudden and excruciating pain had caused him to fall to his knees and the lightning to vanish from his arm. The league-jumping and the team switching, the chasing after the better contract, had set the owners against him. Now, he was just another broken-down ballplayer. If Wilkinson cut him from the Baby Monarchs, there’d be nowhere else to go. He’d had some great years. He’d worked hard and played hard on and off the field, but he was still too young to be washed up.
God knows— he thought, and the dream suddenly came back to him. He hadn’t thought of it in years, not much, anyway. Mostly it was just a face at night, a sneering, white face that frightened him, even as an adult. Suddenly, the scent of the sea was in the air, like it was back that night in Mobile, and he felt a presence on the bench next to him.
“It’s you!” he exclaimed. 
“I told you I’d come if you called,” Prince Hal said. “Free of charge.”
Satchel looked at him sharply, the fuzzy face from the twenty-year-old memory of his childhood nightmare now sharp before him. Prince Hal’s appearance hadn’t changed in the years that had passed, nor had his clothes. He still wore the same evening suit, now hopelessly out of fashion. It might have looked funny on someone else, but there was nothing remotely humorous about Satan’s dour-looking emissary. If he did have a sense of humor, Satch thought, it’d tend to the low side. Like someone who laughed while pulling wings off flies, or maybe arms off ballplayers.
Satchel shook his head. “No, man. I mean, I know who you are.”
“Do you?” Prince Hal said.
“Sure.” Satchel studied him carefully. “The big-league boys still talk about you all the time. I’ve even seen pictures of you. You’re Hal Chase. Fifteen years in the major leagues. The greatest first baseman of your time and not a bad hitter when you cared to be. But you were also the crookedest man in the game, and the baddest. You throwed more games than anyone and, worse, constantly lured others into your schemes. Some say you were in on the World Series fix. Christy Mathewson got you banned, they say.”
Prince Hal made a disgusted face. “That prissy bastard. He didn’t last much longer in the game than me. Got himself gassed in World War I when he joined the army and burned his lungs out. I saw him dead back in ‘25.”
“But you— “Paige’s face took on a puzzled expression. “How...”
Prince Hal just looked at him, waiting out his astonishment.
“But —if you’re a haunt— I ain’t heard that you died. They talk as if you’re still around somewhere, causing trouble as usual...”
Prince Hal’s sinister smile lit his face. “I got nine more years of miserable life left. But that don’t matter none. Neither time nor space matters when Morningstar’s your boss. I go wherever and whenever he sends me, to work his Satanic will.”
“It was all real then,” Satchel said with a faraway expression. He looked out at the field where the rest of his teammates were warming up for the game. “So, no one else can see you?”
“Can’t see me, hear me, feel me. I’m here for you, Satchel, like I said I’d be. You’re the special one.”
“Why me?” Satchel asked in a small voice.
“Morningstar wants you, boy. He marked you when you was born. He collects special souls, and you’re one of them. Hell,” Prince Hal said with a smile, “maybe you’ll end up like me. It’s not a bad way to spend eternity.”
Satchel suppressed a shudder. He’d been right about Prince Hal’s sense of humor. He sat awhile, watching the players on the field before them play catch. He wished he could do it again without it feeling like alligators were gnawing off his arm.
“So, I’m doomed to Hell, then.”
“You signed the contract.” Prince Hal reached out and gripped his shoulder. His fingers were strong where he squeezed it. “Don’t worry. Morningstar’s got plans for you, but your time isn’t here yet.”
Satchel turned to look at him, but Hal Chase was gone. The touch of his hand lingered on Satchel’s shoulder, though. He could feel the press of fingers through the heavy wool of his jersey, and the t-shirt underneath. It was a cold, numbing touch so fierce that it began to burn. Satch gasped as it sunk into his muscle and bone.
“Satch! Hey, Satchel!”
At first, he didn’t hear his teammate call. When he looked up at him, Satchel saw him wave.
“Little help, Satch!”
The ball they’d been playing catch with had gotten away and rolled to within six or seven feet of the bench where Satchel sat, now alone. He got up, slowly, languidly, his mind still caught up in the impossibility of all that had just happened. He bent down, picked the ball up and threw it overhand, effortlessly. It smacked into his teammate’s glove with a resounding pop.
“Damn, Satchel,” he called, shaking his gloved hand.
Paige looked at him, staring. He hadn’t felt a thing in his arm or shoulder. The lightning had returned. It was a miracle.
Kansas City, September 1965
It was a humid night in early fall, with the touch of summer still in the air. There were maybe ten thousand people in the park, which made it mostly empty, but a pretty good draw for Charlie O. Finlay’s hopeless Kansas City Athletics of the American League. They were 57 - 96 and stuck in the cellar. Finlay, more showman than baseball man, had dreamed up “Satchel Paige Night” in an effort to put fannies in the seats, because Paige’s name still meant something in Kansas City, and even if the 59-year-old pitcher got hammered, well, some people would pay good money to see that.
Satchel sat alone in the bullpen in the rocking chair that Finlay had ostentatiously put there for him, the sweat rolling down his face. It hadn’t taken him long to get warmed up in the hot, humid air, and as he watched his one-night teammates ready themselves for the contest, his mind ranged down the years.
He’d remained loyal to Wilkinson of the Monarchs, who’d given him his chance when his arm had gone dead. He’d pitched for the Monarchs, mostly, from 1940 to 1947, helping them to four Negro American League titles, and then in 1948, the call he’d been waiting for all his life came. He was forty-two years old, well past the retirement age for most pitchers. But the Indians of the American League were pushing for the pennant, and they needed help. Owner Bill Veeck asked the veteran of twenty-three years of pitching on baseball fields across the United States, the Caribbean, and South America to come to Cleveland for a try out. Paige couldn’t say no. All his life, his ultimate goal had been to play in the majors, and he’d fumed when other, younger Negro players had beaten him to it. 
After warming up a bit, Paige had thrown twenty pitches to Indian player-manager Lou Boudreau, a future Hall of Famer himself. Nineteen were in the strike zone. Boudreau hit exactly none of them square. He begged Veeck to sign Paige, and the 42-year-old rookie’s 6-1 record did indeed help the Indians win the pennant. Satch became the fourth black man to play in the major leagues in the twentieth century, and the first pitcher.
“That was seventeen years ago,” a familiar voice said beside him. “You’re an old man now. You haven’t pitched in the majors for twelve years, or above semi-pro for seven.”
Paige looked up, unsurprised to see Prince Hal standing beside him, looking down as he sat motionless in the rocking chair. Satan’s emissary still looked the same. Satchel couldn’t help but wish he could say that for himself. He knew that he’d changed since their last meeting. He was still rail-thin and straight as a fastball, but there were wrinkles on his face from almost forty full years, spring through winter, of standing on a mound in the sun. His body looked relatively untouched, but Paige felt the accumulated wear and tear of the tens of thousands of pitches he’d thrown over those years, and he knew that the lightning had long ago left his arm and would never come back.
“Don’t matter to me none,” he said. “Just another game. I’ve been in a few, you know. Don’t you worry about me. I’ve been keeping my hand in, throwing here and there.”
Prince Hal snorted. “Those are major leaguers out there. They may be almost as shitty as the ones on your team, but they have some hitters. One will make the Hall of Fame.” He spit judiciously into the grass at their feet. “Too bad about what happens to that kid, Conigliaro.”
Satchel looked up at him, but there was no pity in Prince Hal’s cold eyes.
“They’re going to light you up, old man.” Nor was there pity in his voice.
“You’s supposed to be helping me, Mr. Chase,“ Satchel said flatly, without a trace of irony in his voice. “Why you being so mean?”
Someone else might have laughed, but Prince Hal had no laughter in him, not even the bitter, hateful kind.
“I’m trying to save you some hurt, you old fool. Your legend has already been made. This circus will only tarnish it, turn you into a laughingstock. Put a sour period to your career that everyone will always remember. Morningstar wants the memory of you to be sweet and savory, so you can be of more use to him. Do yourself a favor. Go out there and throw a pitch or two. Just a couple to the first batter. Then lie down. Say you hurt your arm or back. You’re 59 years old. Everyone will believe you. You don’t have to humiliate yourself.”
Satchel rose slowly from the rocking chair. His back and arm did hurt. They’d been hurting for decades now. He looked across the outfield, to home plate, far away. It was a blur to him, actually. He wore glasses now, but not on the field. All he had to see clearly for was sixty feet, six inches. He could surely see as far as that.
“No wonder,” he said without looking at Prince Hal, “that old Matty got you banned from the game. You are a bad one. I took the man’s money, and never once did I lie down. My teammates are depending on me, and while I lost some games along the way, I lost them honestly because above everything else, all them people in the stands, black and white, have come out to see old Satchel pitch. And I have never given them less than what I have.” He put his old glove on his left hand, flexed it a couple of times. It was as worn as he was himself, but it felt good there. “Goodbye, Prince Hal. I guess I will see you in Hell.”
Slowly, in the loose-limbed stride that had served him for decades, Satchel strode from the bullpen to the mound. He didn’t look back, like he always said you shouldn’t, so he never saw the envy, the hunger, and, deep down, the despair in Prince Hal’s eyes.
Kansas City, June 1982
It wasn’t summer yet, but it sure as Hell felt like it. The early June day was sweltering and humid. The night before, a torrential rainstorm had pelted down upon Kansas City and had knocked out the power where Paige lived in a modest home with his wife Lahoma. He’d had a hard night. He couldn’t sleep much and was bedeviled by a fiendish headache.
Satch was sprawled on the living room sofa, trying to find a comfortable position, but his shoulder ached horrifically, like back in ‘38. He suffered alternately from what felt like a fever and then chills that made him shiver. The emphysema that’d been sucking the oxygen from his lungs for years now was making it hard to breathe. Lahona decided to run down to the store and get some ice to soothe the pain in his shoulder. 
Satchel knew he was losing this long, last battle. He was confused. He felt his heart stammer. His lungs were heaving. The years were fluttering in his mind like his tired heart, his memories a flock of birds, all mixed up together. It was funny which one, out of so very many, his mind seized on. The pain seemed to go away, and his heart steadied.
It was his last great moment on the field, that game he pitched back in 1965 for Charlie Finlay’s last place A’s. The crowd, though he’d played before much bigger ones, cheered him loudly as he took the mound. He could feel the players’ eyes on him, both the A’s and the opposing Red Sox. Most all, he knew, were wondering what the Hell he was doing there, thinking he had no right to take the mound. It was true, Satchel thought, that the lightning was gone from his arm. But he did know a few things about pitching.
The first batter, Jim Gosger, strode to the plate. He was young, no more than his early twenties. He looked pretty eager to hit against the old man, but the best he could manage was a weak pop-up to first base. Satchel grinned as Gosger tossed his bat away in disgust, and then he turned his attention to the second batter.
In the end, Satch went three innings. He threw 28 pitches to 10 batters. He gave up one hit, a double to future Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, whose father he’d once pitched to in a semi-pro game out on Long Island, decades before. He struck out one and walked none and handed off the ball with a 1-0 lead that the A’s bullpen eventually blew for another loss. It was one of the most satisfying games he’d ever pitched.
Satch heard someone call him. He thought it was one of his daughters, maybe his wife, but he couldn’t see clearly. Someone was suddenly pumping on his chest, doing CPR. It was probably his wife, he realized, back home from the store. It annoyed him. He wanted to be left alone, but he was too tired to tell her.
Too tired to run anymore. Too tired to even look back. He knew that something was no longer gaining on him. It had caught him. He was suddenly almost too tired to care.
Two strangers were in his house. A tall black man and a shorter white one. There was the babble of strange voices. He felt a tiny little pinch as one injected something into his thin right arm, but whatever it was, it gave no strength back nor surcease to his suffering. They lifted him up onto a wheeled gurney. His aching shoulder cried out in protest. He couldn’t even gasp in pain. He couldn’t draw enough of a breath into his laboring lungs. He just hissed, like an old run-down cat, a sound so quiet no one heard it above the commotion of the men’s orders and his wife’s crying.
They were more quick than gentle when they wheeled him out and shoved him into the back of the waiting ambulance. It still annoyed Satch, though his fading mind allowed that they were only trying to do their job. To get him to the hospital as fast as they could. He wished he had the strength to tell them not to bother.
He could count the beats of his heart, now. They were loud and slow in his mind. He wondered what Hell would be like. He pondered if it all had been worth it as his life did indeed flash before his eyes between the long, slow thumps of his heart. The poverty and hunger in the beginning, the uncertainty in the middle, the growing acclaim, the dawning glory, the fading away as the lightning inevitably drained from his arm...
Had it been worth it? Hell, yeah, it had. His run had been longer than most any man’s... but still...the thing he wanted most now was to grip a baseball again and make it do magic things on its way to home plate. He wondered idly, as the last echo of his last heartbeat whispered like a feather dragged across his brain, if they had baseball in Hell. Probably not, Paige thought, as his eyes fluttered shut.
“Good to see you again,” a voice that I recognized said. “Wish the circumstances were better.”
I watched Satchel open his eyes. Prince Hal sat beside him, looking the same, wearing that same damned suit he always wore. Paige blinked. He glanced at the med tech who sat on his other side, busy poking into his big bag of stuff.
“You not shy any more about appearing before other folk?” he asked Prince Hal.
The devil’s assistant laughed. “Don’t worry about him,” he said. “We’re in a different place now. He can’t see me or hear us. Besides, we won’t be here long. You ready, Satch?”
Before he could answer, I closed the medical kit and looked right at them. It was time to go to work.
“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” I said. I don’t know who jumped higher, whose eyes bugged out more, Hal’s or Satch’s.
“What the Hell?” Chase sputtered.
I shook my head and said in mock sadness, “No, not this time, Hal.”
“Michael.” Somehow, he managed to make my name come out of his mouth as a hiss. “Is that you?”
“Of course, it is. You know my job is to assist needy souls in the hour of their death.”
“His soul is mine.” Hal reached into his pocket and pulled out the sheet of parchment, thrusting it towards me over a visibly shaken Paige. The ink on the paper burned red with unconsuming flame as I glanced over it. I nodded. Folded it up again.
“The usual,” I said.
“Of course,” Hal snarled.
“You’re a cheater, Chase. Always were. A lazy cheater.” I looked at Paige, who was staring at me in amazement. “For a contract to be enforceable, there must be a quid pro quo. Value must be given for value. Your soul for Hal’s help. But Hal never did a thing for you. You earned everything you had on your own, with your innate talent, hard work, and dedication.”
“I - I,” Paige stuttered, “just pitched.”
“Indeed you did. You worked at it, worked hard at it your entire career.”
“He helped me. Like when he healed my arm—"
I shook my head. “That was just timing on his part. He knew that it had healed naturally, and, like the cheat and conniver he is, made you think it was his doing. Thank your coaches, your managers, your trainers, and the fact that you realized where your talents lay. But don’t thank Prince Hal, here. The lazy bastard never did a thing for you.”
Paige looked at a frustrated Hal Chase. “He cheated me.”
I shrugged. “That’s what he does, when he can.”
“Well, damn, I’m not going with him.”
“You don’t have to.”
Chase’s face turned dark with anger. The smallpox scars burned bright across his features. 
“Don’t make me draw my sword,” I warned him. “Besides,” I added, “you also made a very elementary mistake with this one.”
“Mistake?” Hal ground through clenched teeth.
“In your eagerness, you entered into a contract with a minor.” I shook my head. “Really, Hal.”
He sputtered wordlessly. I felt more pity than anything as I gazed at him.
“You don’t have to go on like this,” I said. “I know a team that can use a good first baseman, and once you were the best—"
What little color it had drained out of his face, and his expression turned bleak. He opened his mouth, but no words came. The contract caught fire and burned away into fine ashes that dissipated on the air. When it was gone, the flames leaped from my fingertips across Paige and settled on Hal. He tried to speak again, but when he opened his mouth, only fire danced within. His expression turned to longing and then he was gone, eaten all away.
The ambulance braked to a sudden halt. The driver jumped from the front and hastened around to the back, but the EMT, no longer possessed by me, shook his head as his partner flung the rear doors open.
“No need to hurry,” he said. “We lost him a couple of minutes ago.”
“Oh, man,” the driver said. “Satchel Paige. Can you believe it? Satchel Paige.”
The medic helped the driver remove the gurney. “I heard about him. You ever see him pitch?”
“Yeah, man,” the driver said. He was older than his partner. “He was the greatest.”
Together, they slid the gurney out of the back of the ambulance, and one of them slammed the door shut.
I looked at Paige, and he looked back at me, still lying prone though the gurney was gone. I let him keep his pajamas and his dignity. It was, as I’d reminded Hal, my job to help the souls of the recently deceased. Those who needed me and deserved my help. Death is often a confusing experience.
“What now, sir?” Paige asked me solemnly.
“Call me Michael,” I told him. “I’m a big fan.”
“Yes, sir.” he said.
I sighed. I had that effect on people. “Well, how you feeling?”
Paige looked reflective. “Pretty good, for a dead man,” he said in a wondering voice. “Pretty good.”
“Come on.” I helped him to his feet, and we walked through the side of the ambulance into the bright sunshine.
The taste of spring was in the air, along with the scent of fresh mown grass. Paige looked around. He’d shed 54 years with the ease of a snake shedding last year’s skin and stood tall and straight in a clean, crisp Kansas City Monarchs uniform. He knew where we were. He’d been in similar places many times before.
Together, we walked out of the bullpen onto the smooth emerald expanse of the newly-cut outfield grass. Shoeless Joe Jackson, his sins forgiven, stood in center field, his arms crossed. He smiled as we walked past him. From right field the Babe called out, “Hi ya, kid!” and Satchel just looked at him as the sights and smells and sounds of the packed stadium washed over him like a cleansing tide.
Jackie and Honus stood on either side of the second base bag, and Josh Gibson, stolid and strong in his catcher’s gear, was waiting to greet him on the mound.
 “You’ve reached the real major league,” I told Satchel as we crossed into the infield. “You’ll be all right now.”
 He nodded to me, and I left him toeing the rubber and going over the signs with big Josh. I hurried across the infield, went through the gate up into the grandstand, stopping to get a couple of hot dogs and a nice cold one before making my way to my seat. 
Satchel toed the rubber once more as I settled down. It was a perfect day for a ball game.
The first pitch was strike one.
DreamForge Anvil © 2021 DreamForge Press
Don't Look Back © 2021 John Jos. Miller