St. Nick's Outlaws
By Jim Colombo
Click here to send comments
Click here if you'd like to exchange critiques
Copyright 2001 Jim Colombo
It was Friday afternoon and the team was dressing for game number fifteen. This
was Dukes last game for St. Nick’s. He was 7-0, led the league in strikeouts, and had an
earned run average 2.21. Galileo was a weak team, and if St. Nick’s had a comfortable
lead, Coach Meyer would let the second string play and let Duke go the distance. Some of
the player thought that all they had to do was show up and collect a victory. The game
was played at Funston Park across the street from Galileo High School. This would be the
last game for the Galileo pitcher. The coaches met at home plate and exchanged lineups.
Coach Meyer walked to third base to coach and Chavez walked to the plate. “Play ball,”
yelled the umpire.
Chavez grounded out to the shortstop, Bobby came up and hit the first pitch, a fly
ball to center field, and Jim struck out on three pitches. The side was retired and Galileo
was up. Galileo got a hit off Duke but stranded the runner when Brocker and Bobby turned
a difficult double play. Duke walked back to the dugout and Macell asked, “You feeling
“It’s not poppin’ like it should. I don’t have my rhythm.”
“You’ll find it, Duke.” .
Coach Meyer noticed that Duke’s curveball wasn’t bending and his fastball didn’t
jump up to the plate. Duke’s last game wasn’t more important than staying undefeated.
Brocker and Holmes flied out and Jenson struck out. Galileo went quietly in the bottom of
the inning. No score after two innings.
Cain came up in the top of the third inning and grounded out to third. Macell hit a
fly ball to left for the second out. Duke took a bat and Woody yelled, “Show’em how,
Duke turned at looked at Woody and smiled. “You got it, Woody.”
On a two ball two strike pitch Duke hit a rocket that evaded the shortstop’s glove
and rolled to the center field wall. The center fielder ran to retrieve the ball and slipped on
a wet spot. He got up and threw the ball to the second baseman. Duke stood on third
base. The center fielder was mad because he had slid on dog shit. The brown goo was
smeared on his right stirrup and pant leg. He continued the game and got ripe. Chavez
stepped up, and hit the first pitch up the middle. Duke cruised home and it was 1-0. Coach
Meyer thought that he would take a chance and make something happen. Bobby looked
at two pitches. It was one and one. Coach Meyer flashed signs and Chavez took off
running to second. The catcher made a good throw and Chavez was out. The inning
ended and St. Nick’s was leading 1-0.
In the bottom of the third inning Galileo wanted to recapture the momentum. They
had the bases loaded with two outs, and their best hitter came to the plate. He popped up
and slammed the bat on home plate. St. Nick’s had dodged a bullet. Duke didn’t have
great stuff, but he was getting the job done. The defense turned some great plays that
saved Duke from a long inning. Macell continued to encourage Duke. “Ya got seven guys
behind ya. Just throw me the ball”
After the fourth inning Coach Meyer asked Mendez to warm up in the bullpen. Duke
saw Mendez trot to the bullpen and stared at Coach Meyer. At the end of the inning Duke
approached Coach Meyer and said, “You’re gonna have to carry me out on a shield,”
referring to a dead Trojan warrior. “I’ve got one in the locker room,” replied Coach Meyer.
Duke knew that the team came first and Coach Meyer wasn’t going to lose a game
because of sentiment. Six innings had passed and the score was 1-0. In the top of
seventh Jim led off with a single, but three outs later he was left standing on first. Duke
was starting to lose control and he didn’t have the arm strength he typically had. He was
throwing off speed stuff and cautiously using the fastball.
In the bottom of the seventh Gallieo could smell blood. Duke was struggling with
each batter. Twice Chavez made plays that saved Duke’s ass. The seventh inning ended
with the bases loaded when Brocker took a grounder bare handed and threw to first. It
was a bang-bang play that the Gallieo coach protested.
In the top of the eighth Coach Meyer approached Duke. “You’ve been on empty
since the seventh inning. You brought us this far, but Mendez has to finish it. You
pitched a hell of a game, but the team comes first.”
Duke didn’t say a word. He knew that he had pitched his last game for St. Nick’s.
He had left every ounce of himself on the mound. He was an empty body filled with
fatigue. The guys came by one by one and hit his shoulder with their gloves. It was a
silent gesture to say, “Well done. You gave it all you had. Thanks.” Jim sat by Duke as
he had for three years and didn’t say anything to him. The top of the eighth inning ended
when Bobby struck out. Duke looked at Jim. “I didn’t want it to end this way.”
“It ain’t over, Duke,” replied Jim.
The bottom of the eighth inning Mendez walked to the mound. He looked at Duke
sitting on the bench. He turned and bounced the rosin bag on his hand. Macell walked to
the mound and grabbed a hand full of dirt. He threw the dirt at the wind and said, ” We
need three outs. How’s the heater?”
“On fire. I want this as bad as you do. I want it for Duke.”
“Let’s do it,” said Macell.
The first Galileo batter stepped up and Mendez served notice. He threw a fastball
high and tight at the batter’s chin. “Ball one,” yelled the ump. The batter stepped out of the
batter’s box and looked at Mendez. “Get back in there,” yelled Mendez. The batter was
mad. He hit home plate with his bat and took a couple of practice swings. Mendez threw
three screamers that the batter never caught up with. The batter on deck walked to home
plate. He looked at the coach on third and acknowledged the signs. The batter fought off
three pitches. Mendez threw one in the dirt. Macell called for a change up. Mendez threw
a slow curveball. The batter swung and missed. Duke yelled, “You're out !”
The team was standing on the dugout steps leaning against the rail. The next
batter foul tipped the first two pitches. He took the next pitch for ball one. Macell signaled
for the fastball. Mendez shook him off. Macell flashed a curve ball. Mendez shook him
off. The batter wasn’t sure what the next pitch would be. Mendez threw a four seam
fastball that was supposed to dance. It didn’t. It was a fat pitch. The batter guessed
correctly and got all of it. The bat gave that distinct sound that all pitchers hate. Holmes
watched the ball sail over the fence in left field. All of the air in the stadium vanished for a
split second. Then the Gallieo dugout filled with exhilaration, and St. Nick’s dugout was
silent in shock. Duke threw his mitt against the dugout wall. “Fuck!”
Mendez turned and grabbed the rosin bag. He couldn’t look at Duke. It was 1-1.
Duke sat back on the bench. He was no longer the pitcher of record. The next batter flied
out to Jim in right field and the side was retired. Mendez felt bad, and didn’t know what to
say to Duke, so he sat at the other side of the dugout, away from Duke. He covered his
head with a towel. He had failed Duke and the team.
In the top of the ninth Jim was the first batter up. On a two ball one strike pitch he
hit a double in the gap between center and right. Jim stood on second base and yelled to
Brocker, “It’s show time.” Brocker came up and tried to crush one. He topped a roller to
third base. The third baseman made the play and threw out Brocker at first. Jim ran to
third. Holmes was up and hit a fly ball to right. Jim tagged up and ran home. He slid hard
into the catcher who had just caught the relay from right field. The catcher lost control of
the ball and tagged Jim with an empty mitt. “Safe!” yelled the ump. It was 2-1. Lupe was
waving at Jim. He waved to her. The next batter was Jensen. He grounded out and the
side was retired.
Duke walked to other end of the dugout to Mendez and said,” It’s yours to win, Mike.
It don’t matter as long as the team wins.”
“You don’t know how bad I felt when he hit the home run.”
“I do. Two years ago I was a reliever like you. Callahan told me that he would kick
my ass if I lost the game. “
“Hell no, and you ain’t either. Now go out there and kick ass.”
“Fuckin’ A, Duke.” Mendez ran out to the mound and started poppin’ the ball in
Macell’s mitt. Macell could feel the heat. The first batter came to the plate and after three
pitches, flied out to Jim. The next batter struck out on three flame throwers. Duke was
yelling encouragement to Mendez. The last hope for Gallieo stepped up to the plate. The
last out to 15-0. The batter was nervous and swung at two pitches that should have been
balls. Mendez was going for the kill and threw a fast ball at the hands of the batter. He
swung and hit a soft fly to right. Jim ran in to catch the ball as it was starting to drop in
front of him. He ran with all of his strength. The ball continued to drop. He lunged for it
and caught the ball in the web of his mitt. The momentum carried him to the ground and
he rolled over on his side. He heard a cheer and got up and saw the players running to
the mound. They threw their mitts in the air and were hugging Mendez and one another.
Duke ran out to Jim and they hugged. Duke rubbed Jim’s cap. “How come you pitchers
always get the glory when I caught the ball,” said Jim.
“So what. The pitcher threw the ball so that you could catch it.” They laughed.
Duke finished his season at 7-0. Mendez got his second win, and St. Nick’s was
undefeated. Jim stayed with Duke in the locker room for a while, so they could savor the
glory. The others had left for the bus There was only one more day in the sun. They
dressed and sat for a while. Duke recalled each pitch that he had thrown. Coach Meyer
came back to see if everything was okay. “You guys going to camp here?”
“No Coach. We were just sitting here watching the parade go by.”
“What parade, Duke?”
“All of the games I pitched the last four years while wearing this uniform.”
“Let’s get on the bus, guys,” said Coach Meyer and left. Jim and Duke followed in a
few minutes. “At least our last game is at Big Wreck,” said Duke.
“One last walk in the park,” said Jim.
Lupe met Jim at the player entrance. She hugged him and said, “”Good game,
“Thanks, Angel.” They waked to the team bus and got on. Jim and Duke looked
at Funston Park for the last time, as the bus drove away, but their spirits remained on the
The Outlaws celebrated Memorial Day the day before on Sunday, May 25 because
Monday was a school day. It was the last beach party for the Outlaws, so Jim asked Lupe
if she wanted to go. She was curious and accepted. You have to wear shorts and a
Hawaiian shirt,” said Jim.
“I don’t have a Hawaiian shirt.”
I have a blue shirt you can wear.”
It was a clear day with a slight breeze. The waves were small and the beach was
crowded. Kites were flying, dogs were running up and down the beach, and the Outlaws
were at their spot by the tunnel entrance to Ocean Beach on Taravel Street. When Jim
and Lupe arrived the fire was going and Augie was grilling hamburgers. Duke, Teague,
and Jensen were paddling out to catch a wave. Bautista, Rensom, and Ristoni were sitting
on blankets and admiring the babes. Jim and Lupe approached Augie. “How ya doing,
Magic man?” asked Jim.
“Far out, Indian. So this is Lupe. Nice to meet ya,” said Augie.
“Nice to meet you, Augie,” said Lupe. She stayed close to Jim because she wasn’t
sure what would happen.. She felt safe with Jim. “Do you guys get drunk and get crazy?”
“Not too crazy. We’ll sit to the side and if you want we can go out on a board.”
“Oh, no! I’m not ready for that.”
“We’ll sit on the board and paddle out. You know how to swim?”
“OK. We’ll enjoy the sunshine.”
“You can go if you want. I’d like to see you on a board.”
“I usually go out a couple of times. You don’t mind.”
“Oh no. I want to see you wipe out.”
“I do that with no problem.”
Jim and Lupe had lunch and took a walk to the old Dutch windmill at the end of
Ocean Beach. When they returned most of the guys had eaten lunch and were admiring
the babes. Jim paddled out and caught a wave. He stood on the board and started to
walk to the front and looked like he did it every day. Lupe was impressed. She waved and
he waved, then he lost his balance and fell off the surfboard. Major wipeout rides again.
Lupe stood to see if Jim was okay. He bobbed up and swam to the board. He got on, laid
on the board, and rode the wave to shore. Lupe ran to greet him with a towel.
“Are you okay, Dude?”
Jim shook his wet hair and splashed water on Lupe. “Groovy, Baby,” said Jim.
She dried his back. Jim kissed her, and they walked back to their spot. Jim
introduced Lupe to all of the Outlaws. Duke blessed Lupe and said, “You are an honorary
“Gee, thanks, Duke.”
Jim sat with Lupe and enjoyed her company and he enjoyed being with guys. It
was the last beach party with the Outlaws. Lupe had to go to the restroom and Ristoni
had to go, so he escorted her. Jim told Augie all of his secrets from Casmir to Brother
Zachary. . Augie was amazed with Jim’s resourcefulness. “Remember, it’s between you
and me,” said Jim.
“She’s must really love you.”
She’s changed my life, Augie.”
After a while Lupe walked back from the bathroom with Ristoni.
“Okay, Indian. You’re a lucky man.”
“I am. Hi, Angel. Do you feel like going for a walk to Playland. It’s about a mile
“Sure, let’s go.”
“We’ll see you later, Augie,” said Jim
“Yeah, see you later. Nice meeting you, Lupe.”
“Me too, Augie. Nice to meet you.”
Jim said good-bye to some of the guys. The others were enjoying the surf, the
girls, and having a few oranges spiked with vodka. Duke found a primo babe and was
showing her how to throw a curve ball. She had curves that Duke had never seen. Jim
and Lupe walked to Playland by the beach an amusement park with rides, cheap food, and
the Funhouse. There was a wooden roller coaster that looked like it would collapse any
minute. Lupe had never gone to Playland and wanted to try all of the rides They drove the
bumper cars that crashed into each other. Then they went on the deep sea diving bell.
Lupe liked the shooting gallery, throwing darts at balloons, throwing softballs at milk
bottles, and tossing ping pong balls into bowls of goldfish. Her favorite was the dog races.
Each player had a gun that shot a stream of water into the monkey’s mouth that made the
dog raced across the track. Lupe won twice.
The Funhouse was a two story building with a fat mechanical lady that was ten
feet tall and she laughed constantly. Jim and Lupe entered and had to find their way
through the maze of mirrors and dead ends to the arcade inside. When they found the
entrance to the arcade they were blasted with a stream of air. There were rides and a
slide that was two stories high. They took a burlap sack and climbed up the stairs, then
sat on the sack and slid down. The slide had rises and it was fastest five seconds and the
Two hours went quickly, and Lupe worked up an appetite. She enjoyed eating
cotton candy, an Its Bar, and a bull pup. An Its Bar is two oatmeal cookies with a slice of
vanilla ice cream in the center and dipped in chocolate. They were frozen and took a while
to eat. Lupe liked the bull pups the best. They were a flour tortilla with seasoned ground
beef inside that was rolled up with chili sauce poured on top, and served on a paper plate.
They also served corn dogs and chili dogs. Jim told Lupe about Doggie Diner and the
double chili cheese dogs with a side of onion rings and a strawberry milkshake.
“When can we go there? I want a chocolate sake.”
“Next Saturday when I meet you at City of Paris. I didn’t think that you’d like gringo
“Hey, Dude, I want it all.”
“You got it, Angel.”
The past three months had been tense for Jim and Lupe. Memorial Day was the
most fun they had had together. They walked to the bus stop on Geary, and stopped at
the corner. Jim looked at Lupe and said, “I told you once that I had a special bond with
Outlaws and you said that you wished you could share those special moments.”
“I realize that you and I have a special relationship that goes beyond the bond that I
have with the Outlaws. It’s true. Until you lay naked with another, will you know and give
love. That’s when you find out if love is real or not”
“I like being naked with you, and taking showers with you. I thought that I would
be shy, but I wasn’t.”
“It was the right thing at the right time, Angel. It’s a natural expression of how we
feel for each other. I don’t believe that we have sinned.”
“I don’t either, but we have to go to confession.”
“I’m not going because the next opportunity I have I will love you again. I would feel
like a hypocrite going to confession every Saturday. What’s the difference if we make love
the day before we are married or the day after? Only 24 hours, not something sinful.”
“I know, Cookie. It’s hard to forget all those years of religious teaching. You can
love me all you want.”
“Angel, once we are married all of the fear of sin gets buried.”
Jim and Lupe got on the bus and went home. Lupe closed her eyes and hugged
Jim. He put his arm around her, kissed the top of her head, and wrapped her in the secure
feeling that she was with her man. He believed that their loving was different, not lust or
fulfilling an urge. True love was the greatest gift shared by two people and Jim believed
God had intended the gift for those who became one in the union of love. Jim thanked
God for Lupe and her gift of love. He hoped that God understood his honesty and that he
wouldn’t be a hypocrite. How could celibate men know what he had experienced? They
were just men in black robes that taught religion. Jim didn’t pray with traditional prayers
like the Our Father or Hail Mary. He just said what was in his heart. “Thank you for
another day with her.”
More next week...