Outside the Foul Lines - Book I

by Rick Beck

Chapter 12


I felt like a stranger in the infield. My backup was a senior. He was ready to take the injured shortstop's place when I was called up to play, which made him my backup. In tight games he replaced me in the later innings so someone with a more potent bat than mine would come to the plate. We cruised to a 5-1 win in my first game. I turned one double play and made several throws to first for outs. The game was never in doubt and I was relieved.

In the second game we fell behind 3-0. I knew Coach Bell's game plan and that kept me on my toes in the field. Most of my nervousness came before I took the field and when I had time between innings to think. I had swung at every pitch when I came to bat in the first game, striking out three times. I was left in so the infield got used to the way I handled the ball.

Before I came to bat in my second game Coach Bell stopped me on my way to the batter's box.

"Okay, Dooley, you're on your own. Don't swing unless you think you'll make contact with the ball."

This news surprised me and I don't know if it was easier simply going up and swinging away, though I rarely made contact, and when I did the ball rarely got beyond the infield. When I went up with swinging on my mind, I didn't get nervous about it. This time at bat my knees were shaking again and I started to sweat, paralyzed at the plate for four straight balls. They were balls and I ended up on first base.

We were playing a team with a record better than ours, which was barely over .500. We'd won two more games than we'd lost. This team had beaten the varsity twice. I felt awkward taking my lead off first. I hadn't been on base all that often. When the pitcher went into his windup, I found myself dashing for second. The batter swung and missed. The catcher stood to make the throw to second. It ended up in short centerfield and I was standing on third with my bench cheering my progress.

"Okay, Dooley," the third base coach said, as he roamed up beside me clapping his hands. "Anything past the infield, tag up and go home unless I put up my hands to stop you."

The count went to three and two on the batter and he hit the next pitch into straightaway centerfield. I made sure the fielder who moved under it had the ball before I left third base. I never looked at the third base coach, but I knew I could get home before the ball.

It stayed 3-1 for the next couple of innings. When I came up in the fourth inning, we'd had two hits for singles and there were men on first and second with no one out. I loved turning a double play but the prospect of hitting into one made me even more nervous.

The first pitch went right down the center of the plate and the bat never left my shoulder. Two straight balls followed before a second strike had me undecided. I stepped out of the batter's box and took a handful of dirt to rub on my sweating hands. I watched the two runners on base. The man on second talked casually to the second baseman. The man on first took one step off first base and stopped and stared at the pitcher so he wasn't surprised by a quick throw to first.

I remembered the bunting exercise the week before as the next pitch was high and outside. If he threw a ball I was on first base with a walk. If he threw a strike, I would try to bunt. Too hard and it would end up with the guy heading for third being put out. Too soft and the catcher would be on it and have an easy play if he didn't throw it away.

With the count three balls and two strikes, the pitcher threw a fastball right over the center of the plate. I'd pulled down my bat, advertising the bunt, and did my best to make contact on the bottom half to drive it into the ground.

It made a fairly solid ball hitting wood type sound. The first hop was way high. I dashed for all I was worth toward first, but the ball beat me as the catcher got to the ball and made a perfect throw. I was out by a step and turned back toward our bench.

"Nice little move, Dooley," Coach Bell said. "A sacrifice is almost good as a hit."

Had I executed the bunt perfectly, we'd have had basses loaded with no one out, but instead we had runners on second and third with one out. It was better than striking out but less than I had in mind. With two outs, there was a line drive single to center, and two runs scored. It was a tie game.

The next inning two balls were hit to Andy in left. He moved under each and made the catch. The other run struck out and the tie took us into the fifth and I was still in the lineup. I didn't come up in the sixth but I was to bat right after Andy in the bottom of the seventh. Coach Bell would pull me for a pinch hitter, which was fine. I hadn't made any errors and I'd scored one run and put the other two in a position to score.

"Good luck," I said to Andy as he strolled toward the plate.

I got my bat and moved to the on-deck box to hit next, but I knew Coach Bell would call me back to the bench for a pinch hitter. I let my mind predict the future, but Andy couldn't read my mind. He got his bat on the ball and I knew by the crack of the bat, he'd caught all of the ball. By the time I looked up Andy was trotting to first in front of me and he made the complimentary trip around the bases.

Home run.

The pitcher who'd served up the fast pitch for Andy was kicking the pitching rubber and cursing himself loud enough for me to hear. I'm sure he realized he should have walked Andy to get to me, but he hadn't and the game was over.

Things warmed up around me after that performance. The following game I turned three double plays, winning the confidence of the infield. We won the game without my bat being needed. My batting wasn't going to win any prizes but I wasn't brought up to win games with my bat. I was brought up to win games with my glove and I hadn't made a mistake serious enough to cost us a game.

On Saturday Andy came to the room in a T-shirt and jeans and he asked me to follow him. I'd done all my homework and most of my reading, so why not? I followed him out of the dorm and over to the athletic complex where the day was fading fast. He walked me to the batting cage where someone had left on the lights over that one section of the field.

"Okay, I've made a deal with the ground's keeper. We have an hour each night we don't have a game."

"An hour?" I said.

"We're going to work on your batting. First I want you to watch me as I take some swings. I've set the machine to pitch a ball every fifteen seconds. It'll give us enough time to talk about the pitches."

"A pitching machine isn't going to throw at my head or dust me off," I explained.

"Your fear is of the ball. This will give you time to adjust to a pitched ball. No one can hit you if you don't let them. Do you know the penalty for purposely hitting a player?"


"You'll be lucky to play again if you do that."

"What if they lose control of it and it just hits you?"

"You can tell a bad pitcher from a head hunter. A pitcher has to pitch over the plate to be a pitcher. Sure, he can make a bad pitch, but that's why you have eyes and legs. You can see when it leaves his hand where it's going to end up. Usually it'll end up within a foot or two of where it's supposed to go. Your head doesn't fit in that space."

"Okay, I'll give it a try. I'm just not a very good hitter."

"I wasn't a very good hitter, until someone showed me why."

"I thought you hated wearing glasses?" I reminded him.

"I do, but I guess I don't mind looking like a geek for a few hours a few days a week."

"You look good in them. They look nice on you."

"Nice try, Sherlock, but I can see into a mirror without you blowing smoke up my ass."

"Have it your way," I said, and for some reason the blowing smoke remark stimulated me in a way I tried to keep under control.

In a white T-shirt and jeans Andy looked good. He had a little more meat on his bones than showed in his uniform, which was mostly how I'd seen him until the past few days. I was still careful not to spend too much time admiring him, but he was a good ball player and the idea he wanted to help me made it all the more interesting.

He batted for awhile, just meeting the ball so we didn't need to chase them outside the field. He had a pretty swing. His body was never off balance, no matter how hard he hit the ball. I felt anything but smooth when I came to face the machine.

It was easier not expecting a ball thrown at my head. It was a stupid fear than should have abated, but each time I came to the plate during a game, the image that came to mind was a fastball being thrown at my head. Facing the machine wasn't the same thing. The machine had no mission beyond delivering the ball to be hit.

Even after I'd tired of the practice, Andy needed to go back for some more. I watched him connect with nearly every ball. By the time he sat down our hour was about up.

"How do you feel about it?"

"It's not the same. Practice makes perfect. Maybe I'll feel different at the plate. What did it cost you to get the lights left on and the machine out for this special practice," I asked, as he sat next to me.

"I agreed to mow the field each Sunday," he said.

I began to laugh and fell off the bench onto my butt, making me more hysterical. Andy looked at me like I was crazy.

"I mow lawns at home. I've had a business since I was in junior high school," I confessed, and he started laughing.

"See, we do have things in common. I mow lawns for my neighbors at home, but I don't have a riding mower. This is a neat John Deere tractor with a huge mowing attachment. It'll take me an hour at most."

"I'll help," I said.

"You want to ride behind me?"

"That might look a little strange," I mused.

"Not so much," he said as I brushed myself off and sat back on the bench with him.

"It was really nice of you to want to help me."

"You're helping me, Do. Why is my helping you any different. You're helping me with my studies."

"How's that working out?"

"It's a bit early. I'm still on the baseball team. I have trouble with everything but gym and lunch."

"We'll do a little each night and it'll keep your grades up."

We sat and talked about a schedule that would have us together for eight hours a day if you didn't include sleeping. I didn't mind helping Andy because he was a nice guy and I liked being around him.

On Sunday when he went to mow the field I went and used a pair of clippers to trim the grass around the fence. I didn't ride behind him on the mower but neither of us had taken that offer seriously. My desire to be close to him didn't include giving grounds keepers or baseball players something to talk about.

Sunday was a pleasant day with the morning warm enough for working in a T-shirt. Andy mowed the baseball outfield and the areas outside the fence as I trimmed near the fence. It was like old times but I wondered if my clients would wait for my return from college or go elsewhere for their mowing services.

The grass at home would be flourishing by mid-May, and it would be getting out of hand by the time school ended. I thought most of them would wait because I was away at school. I knew the ones who weren't bound to me by loyalty.

There would be summer practice, but I'd still spend enough time at home to continue mowing for my best clients. They trusted me to do a good job and I wasn't ready to turn them over to someone else. I took pride in my work and I felt responsible for their lawns. It was no longer a question of money, because the fee for tutoring Andy provided all I needed. I made a mental note to call my father and have him tell my clients when I'd be home and ready to go back to work.

As was true most Sunday afternoons, the dorm was deserted when we returned from two hours of lawn care. Andy raced me to the shower and seemed happier than usual. We were going to study for two hours and then go out to eat and relax for the rest of the day.

As I got back to the room, he was right behind me, grabbing my arm at the door to swing me around so he could get in first. When I jumped back into his way he pulled at the waist of the towel I'd wrapped around myself and it dropped to the floor. When I stooped to pick it up to wrap it back around me, he was going into the room.

I fought him to keep his progress at a minimum and he used those long arms of his to keep his advantage. We wrestled each other and he pulled at my towel, tossing it across the room. He held me from behind as I turned to retrieve the shield that kept me from being naked. His height advantage allowed him to reach me when I wasn't able to reach him, and he pulled me back away from the towel.

My naked ass ended up against his fluffy tan towel and there was an abrupt protrusion that became apparent to me as the smooth skin on his chest rubbed against the smooth skin on my back. I made it a point to allow him certain liberties without making any effort to remove my lower body from where we stood.

Having his arms around me with his body pressed close to mine, I wrestled less as he wrestled more. When we ended up on my bed with him on top of me, he lost his fluffy tan towel, which put his stiff prick against my seriously overheating skin. Staying behind me and getting no protest from me, he pushed his erection up the crack of my ass three times, as I was perfectly still.

His arms held him up as he panted from wrestling and the sudden onset of ardor that drove his desire for more. When he stopped moving, his cock against my hole, I swooned and realized I was every bit as erect as he was.

When he pushed himself up off me and reintroduced his towel to his waist, I looked in time to see his stiff cock in all its glory. He was fast to tuck it behind his towel as I wanted a better view and more of the same.

"You okay?" I asked, seeing the red blush in his skin.

"Not exactly. I've got a girlfriend," he explained.

Nothing could explain his abrupt stop in the middle of one of the best moments of my entire life. I could feel my stomach turning over as my attraction and desire for him met the reality of the day.

"We're too old to be doing that," he said, turning away with nothing more to go on.

"When do you get too old to like someone?" I asked.

"I don't know. We going to do English or History this afternoon?" he asked, putting on his glasses and picking up one of his books to put anything he could between us.

My heart pounded, my cock throbbed, and I thought I might puke. How can someone be that far gone and pull himself back in an instant. Being confused by boys was a full time job for me. From Ryan to Devon, I didn't get it. I loved being close to someone and guys liked being close to me, but they kept stopping before they really got started. It seemed to me that being in a room with Andy after this was going to be the hardest thing I'd ever done. He was the nicest and sweetest guy I'd ever known, but we'd crossed a line and it wasn't so easy for me to spring back onto the other side.

He sat at the computer and I stayed in my bed.

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