Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Baseball Story

When Taylor Featherston was a young man, he was known around the minor leagues as a fast runner with a pretty good glove.  Not a great glove, but good enough to play any infield position.  Not super fast, either, but fast enough to be considered "speedy."  He as drafted by the Colorado Rockies, but bounced around the minor leagues for a few years until he realized that he would never be the star baseball player that he always envisioned when he was a boy.  What is generally not known is that Featherston, or Professor Featherston as he was known from 2024, after he completed his educational degree until his retirement from McMurry College in Abilene, Texas, also had a major league career.

It was one of those fluke circumstances.  He was in the California Angels' (or, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before the California legislature outlawed moniker fraud) system, at age 25, still envisioning a chance for himself in the majors.  The Angels were generally healthy but for a couple of injuries.  The Angels called him up, as their returning utility man was one day short of coming off of the disabled list and they needed a replacement to fill out the roster.  Featherston knew that, still, if you get a call to the major leagues, you take it and don't think twice.  He as in Salt Lake, on the Bees, a quick plane ride from San Francisco where the Angels were to play the second of a three game set.  Featherston caught the 6 am flight Saturday morning, arriving at SFO and going straight to the Giants' ATT park, where a major league uniform awaited him.  

The Angels had a full compliment of starting players, his role was to be a back-up, but, you never know, maybe he could get in the game as a pinch hitter or late-inning defensive replacement.  Especially since the Angels had to play National League rules, which meant that the pitchers had to bat.  The Angels has lost the previous night, and, like every team, wanted to beat the 2014 World Champion Giants.  The Giants were starting Tim Hudson, a 40 year old pitcher that Featherston had seen, it seemed like forever, battling the Texas Rangers as an A and the Houston Astros as a Brave.  The stands filled, unlike anything he had seen in the minors - a sea of orange and black, and championship banners flapping in the cool breeze.    The Giants drew first blood with 2 runs in the second.  The Angels answered in the 4th with 1 on a Mike Trout home run, but the Giants added in the bottom of the 4th to keep the lead at 2.  Hudson was masterful, keeping the Angels down until he gave up a second solo home run in the 7th to Albert Pujols.  Watching these legends, Featherston had to remind himself to keep mentally ready, he could be called on at any minute.   Buster Posey added to the Giants' score in the bottom of the 7, the Angels were still 3 runs down.

Then, in the 9th, Tim Hudson walked the first batter pinch hitter Collin Cowgill, and Bruce Bochy, the Giants' manager, determined that it was time to go to the bullpen.  The second batter hit into a force out, leaving a runner at first for Mike Trout.  Trout promptly singled and Albert Pujols struck out, so the Angels were down to their last out with two on.  A pitching change brought in Jeremy Affeldt, who gave up a single to Kole Calhoun.  That was one run, 5 - 3 Giants with two on.  Another pitching change brought in Santiago Castilla, the Giants' closer.  David Freese singled to straight-away center, scoring Trout, and sending Calhoun to third base as the Angels drew within one.  Then, breaking his concentration, Manager Mike Scioscia barked at him to go in and pinch run for Freese.  The Angels were hitting the Giants' relievers and he was going to be a part of it!  The first base coach told him to be ready, that if Matt Joyce got wood on the ball, he was to run like there was no tomorrow.  There would be no double plays to break up, no trying to tag and run on a deep fly out.  There were two outs in the ninth! 

And with that, Joyce stung the ball up the middle and as Featherston sped toward second, he felt the ball bounce off of his leg.  He reached second, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Calhoun cross the plate, but something was wrong.  The umpires were signaling "out" and the Giants were walking off the field.  He had been hit by a batted ball for an out and it was the third out of the ninth inning.  The Giants had won.

The next day, Taylor Featheston was sent back to Salt Lake, but not before Mike Scioscia gave him a pep talk and told him to be ready to come back at any time.  That time never came.  When he retired from teaching in 2062, he was asked if he remembered the game.  "Remember it?" he said, "I haven't forgot a second."


M.C. O'Connor said...

"Taylor Featherston" sounds like a law firm that needs a third partner. "Taylor, Featherston, & Belik" has a nice ring to it.

Zo said...

Nah, more like Taylor and Featherston of Savile Row, Bespoke Tailoring.

ps. Sorry about the fonts.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I like it. I think I'll get my next suit there.

El said...

Why we love baseball.