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"No Hitter" by Deryck N. Robertson



There has been much written about the new MLB rules this season. I read daily reports on how fast games are (2:38), how stolen bases have increased (1.32/game), and how scoring is up (4.3/game). Because game speed is the reason that fans are not coming to the ball parks. 


We are conditioned to speed. If the car in front of us doesn’t move at the exact time the light turns green, we grumble. We don’t have the time to wait in line any more so we order online, just drive up, and our groceries are placed in our trunks for us. Walmart knows that if their website load times are too slow, they lose millions. A one second load time increase costs Amazon $1.6 billion a year. So, yeah. Speed is the name of the new game.


For 162 (or hopefully more) games each year, baseball is a constant in my life. I watch games on television and listen while I’m in the car or in the garage. TSN is bookmarked on my laptop and phone. I read Baseball Digest and memorize game facts. From the day I first discovered baseball in 1977 when the game came to Toronto and I walked to school with pockets full of baseball cards, I have not been concerned with the length of games. Well, perhaps on those April days at the old Exhibition Stadium when the wind and the rain blew in horizontally off Lake Ontario I may have muttered something about it to some of my fellow sufferers. While watching at home, I read books, putter around, fold laundry, and discuss the game events with whoever is with me. It’s the background for over half my life each year.


In 1990 when I was still not sure what life had planned for me, I was working in a warehouse, picking, packing, and shipping books, a job I had done since intermediate school, both as a summer job and as full-time employment. I showed up every day, but many others had attendance problems. So, the foreman hatched a plan to encourage people to come to work every day. Each day you did, you got to fill in whether you thought the Toronto Blue Jays would win or lose that day on a large chart in the office back in the receiving area. First one to get a certain number correct would win tickets to an upcoming game. Before the Easter weekend, I put in my picks and when I returned on Monday, I had reached the magic number. (Don’t ever mention THE Magic Number to my kids.)


I was given two tickets to the June 29 game against the Oakland A’s with Dave Stewart on the mound for the visitors. My best friend, Jim, was my plus one. It was the least I could do seeing as he was the source of all my Maple Leaf tickets.  We took our seats in the 500 section, first row third base line, just past the base. I don’t remember much about the first part of the game. We ate, chatted, got caught up, and laughed, while the game unfolded below. In the 7th inning, I distinctly remember noting to Jim that the Jays hadn’t had a hit yet, a fact that we should have noticed earlier if we had been paying more attention. But that’s the way it goes with baseball sometimes. 


Bottom of the 8th, still no hits. You could feel the buzz beginning around the SkyDome. Were we really going to see this happen? Top of nine comes and goes. I don’t even remember who was coming up to bat for the Jays. Doesn’t really matter. What I do remember was the almost 50 000 Toronto fans standing and cheering the opposing pitcher as he recorded each of the last three outs. Pretty much everyone except Jim, who sat there with arms crossed, scowl on his face. “I can’t believe you’re cheering for the opposing team,” he said. When the last out was recorded and Stewart was mobbed by his teammates, the Toronto fans continued to cheer and applaud. Dave Stewart and baseball fans were the winners that night. Each game since, I have hoped that I would witness another one. Alas, I have not.


The game took 2:27 to play.      




Deryck N. Robertson lives and creates in Peterborough/Nogojiwanong, Ontario, where he is an elementary educator. Work has appeared with The Minison Project, Orchard Lea Press, Loft Books, and forthcoming  with Vital Minutiae Quarterly. His first chapbook, All We Remember, was realeased by Alien Buddha Press in 2021. He is the EIC of Paddler Press and has a couple of songs on Spotify. When not writing, he can usually be found drinking maple roast coffee around a campfire or in the stern of his canoe in Algonquin Park. You can find him online @Canoe_Ideas, @PaddlerPress, and deryck.ca.

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