It was hard to tell where one stopped and the other started. His skin was the clay color of his glove. Twenty years in the minor leagues were etched across his bronze face. Like the rings of a tree the lines across his cheeks told stories of too many days in the sun, too many long bus rides and too many times that close call to the big leagues that never came.
"If we win this game Harvey, we go to the championship. This is your last game. I should have let you go last year. You gotta reach down one time. You are the only starter left. Don't let your team down."
At his ageHarvey didn't need a pep talk. It was true, he probably should have been let go five years ago. A young boys soul trapped in an old beat up baseball playerys body.
"I can do it coach, this is gonna be the one."
He faced the young hitters with avengence. Somehow he found a second wind in the heat of the summer evening. Batter after batter went down. The last man up, a strike out.
The crowd cheered.
The players congratulated him.
He was 19 again.
"Harvey, you struck out seven, your first shut out in years. You gotta' feel pretty good. Did you hear that crowd?"
"All that talk about this being your Last game, well, that was just a pysch job. We want you for the big game next week."
Beside his little boy heart that smile was all that was left of his youth.
"Coach, you heard those cheers. Just last week they were boos. Kinda had a hollow ring to 'em."
"The ol' curve, she was coming around the corner. I remember throwin' like that in high school. I appreciate the confidence, you hung with me longer that you should have. You did a good psych job but I finally won one for old Harvey."
"It's over. I'm not ever gonna' throw myself another curve.