Day in the Sun
Waiting for You
Chapter 4: Day in the Sun
The final game of the Quakes season had come, and by virtue of their late summer collapse, there would be no playoffs this year. Most of the players had already been in contact with their families about coming home for the winter; Harry had spent the last night retyping the list of contact information, so the boys of summer could stay in contact over the winter. Thorsen was headed back to some 'frozen Hell', as he called it, in Minnesota; Mackenzie would be off to play in the Arizona Fall League and then back to Pennsylvania for Christmas; Henderson had interviewed by phone for a valet job at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas; and the townie of the group, Paul Horton, was already talking about the winter job he'd landed as a tram driver for the Disneyland Resort down in Anaheim, starting next week.
It would be at least another full year before any of them got to what they all called 'the Show', or the major leagues - most likely the Angels, unless they got traded in the meantime - but today was the next best thing. They'd ridden the bus an extra eighty miles to San Diego for the last game of the Lake Elsinore series, which was the second game of a doubleheader. The Quakes and the Storm would play a late afternoon game, after the Storm's major league team (and today's hosts in the major-league ballpark), the Padres, took on the visiting Pirates.
The ballpark was enormous, in certain ways, compared to the usual haunts of the California League. The Quakes' home field, the Epicenter, contained six or seven thousand seats, the Storm's Diamond, largest park in the league, sat nearly nine thousand. Most of the league played in one or two level stadiums, where the seats did not even fully encircle the field.
The major-league park was made up of three levels, and the facade of a historic building occupied the left-field corner. The brick building's twenty-odd meter roofline barely reached the lower edge of the cantilevered top level, and was dwarfed by the massive electronic scoreboard beside it. It contained over forty-two thousand seats, and on this warm August afternoon, many of them were still full. Even though many of the Padres' spectators were filing out as the Quakes and Storm came onto the field, it would still be the largest crowd they'd played in front of all year. Simply put, you could put a whole week's worth of their normal crowds in this place at once.
Harry went on with his usual pre-game activities as equipment manager, tripping over the Pirates' staff as he put out the Gatorade bottles and the towels and such. The players were responsible for their bats, gloves, and helmets, though he noticed the Pirates' staff taking care of those. Must be nice to be in the big-budget major leagues, right? Heck, those equipment guys probably got to sit back and watch the whole game, instead of having to run the laundry as well.
Cam Mackenzie was standing, just standing, on the top step of the dugout, looking down at the dirt and grass playing surface. After a moment or two, he turned, and said, "Hey, English?"
Harry smiled. "Yeah, Cam?"
"You ever play catch in a major-league park?" Harry just shook his head, and Cam smiled. "Grab a glove and get up here."
"I'm really not..."
"You have ta be able to say you did it." Cam smiled. "When ya go back to that sister of yours... next week, right?"
Harry sighed. "Anyone got a spare glove?"
One of the Pirates' equipment guys looked at him. "We've got a few spares. If you don't mind black. You righty or lefty?"
"Right." Harry smiled. "You guys won't miss it?"
"Nah. We carry a couple boxes of spares, they get torn up, lost, sent to the Minors..." The Pirates' guy grinned. "Name's Joe."
"Harry." Harry smiled, reaching out to shake his hand. "'Quipment Man'ger, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes."
"Don't hear many Brit accents in baseball." Joe smiled, tossing Harry a glove. "Probably have to explain what it is to Customs when you head home for the winter."
"Probably." Harry grinned, sliding his left hand into the fielder's glove. With that, he turned and ran up the steps from the dugout, onto the expanse of grass under the bright August afternoon sun. He blinked against the light, and Thorsen laughingly handed him a pair of cheap wraparound sunglasses. Thanking whatever was holy that he'd gotten contacts, Harry slipped on the shades and nodded to Cam, who gestured out toward the sunniest part of center field.