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St. Nick's Outlaws

By Jim Colombo


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Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo


 Chapter 60




It was the first baseball game of the season. The smell of cut grass, the geometry of


the white lines that dictated a fair or foul ball, mere inches that would determine victory or


defeat.  Jim was standing in right field playing catch with Cain in center field.  He was in his


element wearing a clean white uniform with blue trim and lettering.  The sky was painted


deep blue with streaks of thin white clouds.  Lowell was the opposing team and they wore


gray uniforms with red trim and lettering.  The Lowell band was playing their school song. 


Their cheerleaders wore red pants and white sweaters, and the pom-pom girls wore red 


skirts and white sweaters. St. Nick’s was the home team and they were playing at Big


Wreck in Golden Gate Park.  Dancell was the cheerleader for St. Nick’s and wore a blue


and white mad-hatter’s hat.  The band didn’t attend baseball games.  Both sides of


the stadium were filled with students.  Some late arrivals sat on the grassy knolls by the


left and right outfields.  Lupe sat in the first row behind the St. Nick’s dugout and wore


Jim’s varsity sweater for good luck.  It hadn’t failed her since she started to wear it a year


and a half ago.


Duke was the starting pitcher and  Macell was the catcher.  Brocker was at third,


Chavez was at short, Jefferson’s younger brother Bobby was at second, and Jensen was


on first.  Holmes was the left fielder, with Cain in center, and Jim in right field.  Suarez had  


been the second baseman last year and he wanted to go to the game, but he was having a


problem with his artificial leg irritating his stump.  Most of the guys had played together for


the past three years.  They knew how to position themselves with respect to the pitch


thrown by the pitcher and the batter's tendencies.  Mr. Meyer was the coach.


Duke blessed the players before the game, calling upon the spirit of the Holy Ghost   


to bestow the power to kick Lowell’s ass.  Mr. Meyer stayed for the blessing and removed


his hat with the rest of the team.  He no longer feared the wrath of God.  Woody was a


small person with the loudest voice and the clubhouse cheerleader. 


At the top of the first inning Lowell sent three up and three went down.  Chavez


led off for St. Nick’s in the bottom of the inning with a single and went to second on a


fielder’s choice.  Two weak grounders followed and the inning ended.  In the bottom of


the second Brocker led off with a rocket that sailed over the left fielder’s head.  Woody


was the first one to greet Brocker.  The inning ended and it was 1-0.  Duke had good


stuff and the ball danced all over the plate.  Macell sat behind home plate and watched


Duke baffle the hitters.  The Lowell batters were hitting a piece of the ball.  The infielders


got most of the action.  A couple of lazy fly balls were hit to right field and Jim made the


plays, and Lupe cheered each time.


            It was 1-0 after six innings and both pitchers had settled down as masters of the


plate.  It was a frustrating day for the batters.  Jim struck out twice.  Only Duke could


appreciate the Lowell pitcher’s effort.  In the bottom of the seventh Holmes got a walk, 


Cain bunted him to second, and Coach Meyer called time for Woody to run for Holmes,


who wasn’t fast enough to run from second to home on a single.  Woody danced and


distracted the pitcher.  Macell came to the plate, and hit the first pitch,  a high drive into


shallow right field. The right thought that no one would run on a shallow hit, so he casually


caught the ball and threw to the second baseman.  Woody tagged second and ran for


third.  When second baseman saw Woody running for third he threw the ball to third.  It


was a high throw off the bag and Woody slid under the tag.  “Safe!” said the umpire. 


Woody bounced up and dusted his shirt.  The guys in the dugout cheered. 


Jim came to bat and the infielders crept in to eliminate the bunt and make the play


at home.  Jim showed bunt and fouled off two balls. The next pitch was in the dirt ball one.  


Woody was dancing up and down the third base line, while the Lowell third baseman was


edging back and forth between the bag and the hole.  The pitcher waved off the first three


signs the catcher flashed.  Both dugouts were yelling, the students were yelling


encouragement, and Jim heard a voice say, “Relax man.  Be cool.  Don’t let ’em see you


sweat,”  recalling what Steinway had told Jim several times.  Jim settled down and


concentrated on the spinning motion of the ball traveling eighty miles an hour to the plate. 


It was a two-seam fastball with a tight spinning motion.  He swung and hit a single that


kicked up a cloud of dirt, and like a jack rabbit ran up the middle to the center fielder. 


Woody ran home and Jim stood on first.  He turned and saw Lupe waving her arms and


cheering.  Woody ran to the dugout and was swarmed by the players because he had


created the run.  Woody yelled to Jim, “Way to go!”  and Jim acknowledged Woody by


waving his hand.  The inning ended with Jim stranded on first 2-0 after seven innings.


            Bobby replaced Holmes in left and Woody replaced Bobby at second.  Duke was


in overdrive and  threw ten pitches in the eighth inning to retire the side with two


grounders and a strikeouts.  The bottom of the eighth was Woody’s first at bat and he


took  Brocker’s 36 ounce bat, and walked up to the plate like he knew what he was


doing with the bat resting on his shoulder.  Some of the players thought that it would leave


a dent in his shoulder.  Woody took three mighty swings at air, but he had good style. 


Some of the players called him Whoosh until he got his first hit.  Duke mowed down the


last three batters with heavy heat in the top of the ninth.  The last batter swung so hard


that he seemed to screw himself into the ground.   St. Nick’s won 2-0. One down, fifteen to




Lupe waited for Jim at the players entrance while he took a quick shower and


dressed.  She greeted him with a victory hug that wasn’t as crushing as her I love you hug,


but more than her I missed you hug.  The joy of victory slowly dissipated once Jim saw her


smile and felt her body press against his.  She had a fragrance like no other.  They walked


to the bus stop.  Soon the bus came and they went home.  The sun was setting.  






            Foxie had made inquiries about the black kid whose mother had died.  The boy


and his two sisters were in shock and mourning their mother’s death and the county had


assigned a social worker to help them continue their lives. Foxie went to Juvenile Hall and


was told to come back a week later. The boy’s name was Marcus and he was eight. His


two younger sisters were Trinika age five, and Monika age three.  The social worker


assigned to the case was Miss Ida Beaudine,  a recent graduate from Cal Berkeley, and


had a master's degree in sociology with a minor in psychology.   


            Foxie made an appointment to meet Miss Ida.  He wanted to help in some way, like


helping the Boys Club, but he didn’t want to get involved.   He felt sorry for the kid.  An


eight-year-old should be thinking about baseball, playing at the school yard, and collecting


baseball cards.  Foxie brought Giants baseball caps for the three kids.  His appointment


was at ten at Juvenile Hall. He arrived early.


            Foxie entered the facility and left his gun at the front desk with the duty officer. His


vision strained to read the fine print on the business card.  He told the receptionist, “I got a


appointment with a case worker, a Ida Bow-deen.” 


She dialed a phone number.  “Mr. Gannon is here…..  OK…… Please have a seat. 


She’ll be out in a few minutes.”   


“I ain’t got all day, lady.”  Foxie walked to the metal folding chairs and sat.  He


became inpatient and stared at the ceiling counting all of the cracks.  The walls were


painted green, and had faded to light green.  The edges were darker because they hadn’t


been subjected to the sunlight.  Ten minutes passed, then a  black lady walked in from the


hallway and approached Foxie.


            “Mr. Gannon?”


            “Yeah.  Are you Ida?”


            “Yes, Mr. Gannon.”


            “Hey, ah… please call me Foxie.  Everybody calls me Foxie.”


            “I’m not everyone, Mr. Gannon.”


            Foxie had met his match and was on her turf.  It was her game and her rules.


            “Why are you here, Mr. Gannon?”


            “I know the boy and wanted see if I can help.”


            “How do you know the boy?”


            “He lifted, ah.... stole my sunglasses.”


            Ida paused for a moment and looked through the case file.  “Did you reprimand




            “Did I roust’em? No.”


            “Did you get your sunglasses back and tell him it was wrong?”


            “Ah yeah,  I gave him the wrap.  You know.  I told him I could throw his ass,  ah…


him in jail.  The kid helped me find a dealer, so I let him keep the glasses.”


            Ida could see that Foxie had spent too many years in the cesspool called the


Tenderloin.  He had good intentions to help the children, but he wasn’t making a good


impression with Ida.  Foxie was the silver tongued dude who could convert the devil, but 


each time Ida looked into Foxie’s eyes he forgot who he was.


            “Here.  I brought these caps for the kids.”


            “Thank you.  I’ll give them to the kids.”


            “I just want to help.  I hope you understand”


            “ I understand, Mr. Gannon.  You can visit them in a couple of weeks.”


            “Do they have to stay here?  Ain’t there no other place?”


            “For now they have to stay here.  Come back in a couple of weeks, and we’ll talk


again.  I appreciate your concern, Mr. Gannon.”


            Foxie left and felt like he had been frisked.  She was some black lady.  He would


have to find her spot.  Everyone has a spot that’s vulnerable.  It would be a matter of time.


            Foxie walked to the squad car and entered it.


            “How’d it go?” asked C.J.


“I got my clock cleaned.”


“I didn’t know that you could tell time.”


“She’s a black babe.  Great ass, but she gotta two-by-four shoved up it.  She


graduated from Berkeley.  One of those uppity babes.”


“Oh, one of those.  Good luck.”    


            “They call themselves militant.  Who knows maybe she’s packing a piece.”


They drove to Pier Three on the wharf, and had lunch at Java Joe’s where the  


Tugboat skippers ate.  The food was better than Blackie’s, and the view was always good.  


Both had a basket burger with fries and a couple of beers.  Foxie buried the fries in


ketchup.  After lunch the boys sat by the dock and enjoyed a smoke.  Then they returned


to the car and were back on duty.  Foxie thought about Ida as he drove the squad car. 


She was a shapely lady.  He imagined what it would be like banging her pile driving ass. 


Foxie preferred black women, because they knew how to do it better than white babes. 


C.J. interrupted his fantasy.


            “Hey, Foxie.  I was talking to the commander about transferring to communications. 


He said if a spot opens up, he’ll give me a call.   That’s okay by you?”




C.J. sat back and closed his eyes.  He could tolerate the squealing tires with his


eyes closed than seeing Foxie hanging turns on two wheels.  Foxie went through squad


cars at twice the rate allowed by the city.  He didn’t have accidents because most folks


were concerned with getting out of the way of the runaway rocket, and defaulted to the


madman in the cop car. After a couple of months the hubcaps were missing after countless


wheelies and turns that defied the laws of physics.  After a year Foxie’s car died of old age


with the engine, transmission, and tires shot to hell.  They drove back to the zoo they


called the Tenderloin.  It was feeding time.




More next week...