The Dickie August Story -Chapter 10 – What about Cass?

It was game time and Dickie and Cass went to the bullpen to watch it from there. The two were so incredibly excited they could hardly contain themselves.

The team’s closer, Joaquin Alvarez, sat next to Dickie. Cass settled in on the other side of Dickie. The bullpen had 10 chairs lined up in a row facing the field. Joaquin, although from the Dominican Republic, also spoke English and found Dickie’s sudden rise to the major leagues to be a very interesting story. He turned his head towards Dickie. “So tell me Dickie, how old are you?

“I'll be 21 next week.”

“Wow. Twenty-one years old. I just turned 35 and I noticed my fastball isn't what it used to be. How fast is your fastball?” “Well, I think that in the past I've gone a little bit over 100.” Dickie turned to his other side, facing Cass. “What do you think Stumps, I've touched 101 a few times, uh?”

Cass leaned forward to make eye contact with Joaquin. “I'm not sure about that, that might be a little high.”

As the game moved along, the score was Oakland three and Kansas City zero. To Dickie’s untrained major league eye, this Kansas City team really did look like a last-place team.

“So Dickie.” Inquired Joaquin. “I've heard that you came from our minor-league team.”

“Yeah, the Sea Creatures.”

“But, you were only there for a month and then you demanded a trip to the major leagues? That's what I'm hearing Dickie. Are you interested in my job, as the closer?

“Oh no, I'm not here to take your job. I'm expecting to be a starting pitcher eventually.”

“And, the word is that you wanted your own catcher to come with you. I never heard of a pitcher demanding all of these things. You must be one amazing pitcher.” Joked Joaquin.

Dickie wasn’t making many friends here in Kansas City.

Yet, he knew when they saw him pitch, he could win them over.

The game was now in the seventh inning and Oakland was still leading by a score of 3 to 2. At which time, the phone in the bullpen rang and the bullpen coach, Ed Cousins, answered it. He mumbled a couple things and then pointed to Dickie. “Okay August, it's time for you to get loose.”

Dickie jumped up and couldn't wait to start throwing. “You ready Cass?”

Cass got up and grabbed his mitt. He walked over behind one of the practice plates in the bullpen. Dickey, just to feel safe and be confident, reached in his back pocket and touched the Alet.

Dickie began to warm up and throw pitches to Cass. Joaquin stood next to Dickie and watched closely. “I hope you get in the game Dickie, because I really want to see what all the fuss is about.”

“Thanks Joaquin-I hope so too.”

As the top of the eighth inning came around, it was Dickie’s turn. Ed cousins tapped Dickie on the shoulder. “Okay kid you're in the game.” “In the game? You mean right now? Question Dickie.

“Yeah as in right now.” Ed walked over and opened the door to the field. He then motioned to Dickie to get going. Dickie grabbed his glove and started to make his way to the pitcher's mound. But, before he knew it, Cass was also running in to catch, and replace the captain, Billy Wild.

He heard the public address announcer off in the distance, “Now pitching for the Nine, number 59, Dickie August.” Dickie almost fell over with pride.

As Dickie approached the mound, the manager, Barry Keeton, was there to hand him the ball. “Ok- Dickie – get 3 outs and give our guys a chance.”

Dickie felt his heart racing and thought it might burst through his chest. He just nodded to Barry.

Cass ambled to the mound as well. “What’s the plan, Mr. K?”

Get 3 Outs!

“The plan is to get 3 outs. You two are supposed to know each other so well, I think you can figure it out.” Barry turned and walked to the dugout, leaving Dickie and Cass at the mound.

“Ok Dickie – here goes – go with the usual signs.” Cass swallowed and pulled down his mask and jogged back to home plate.

Dickie took a second to look in the stands. Because Kansas City was in last place, they did not attract a lot of fans. Thus, if Dickie struggled, there wouldn’t be a lot of folks there to boo him.

“Dickie looked in and got the sign from Cass. Number one – fastball on the way.” A 95 miles per hour fastball hit the outside corner for strike one.

The batter was a left handed batter – someone Dickie didn’t know. The next pitch was again 95, but right down the middle. The batter fouled it back – strike two. Cass again called for the heat and Dickie dialed it up to 100 mph. The ball was thrown so fast, the batter harmlessly waved at it for strike three, but it was also too hot for Cass to handle.

The ball bounced off of Cass’ glove and rolled behind him. The batter made it to first base even though he struck out. Dickie could hear Billy Wild yelling at Cass from the dugout. “Come on you bum – catch the damn ball!”

Dickie was nervous, for Cass. The next batter was a small right handed batter. Cass called for a split finger baseball and Dickie delivered it with a great break. The batter swung over it for strike one. Dickie was really feeling it – or the Alet was really feeling it.

Dickie fired a fastball next, for strike two, and this time it ricocheted off of Cass’ Glove and the runner advanced to second base.

Dickie called timeout and waved Cass to come to the mound. “What’s the problem?”

“I guess I’m a little slow with the glove. It has been a while since I caught in a game – and this is the major…”

“Ok- fine- just stay focused” Interrupted Dickie.

Cass tugged at Dickie’s arm. “How are you throwing the ball like this?”

The umpire appeared at the mound behind Cass. “Ok – let’s break this meeting up.”

With Cass back behind the plate, Dickie fired another 95 mph fastball right by the hitter for strike three, and the first out of the inning. This time, Cass held on to the ball.

The next batter dug in to the batter’s box while giving Dickie a healthy stare. Dickie dropped a wicked curveball over for strike one. He blazed a 95 mph fastball in for strike two. The third pitch was another heavy breaking curveball that caught the plate for strike three. Two outs. The next batter was a powerful left handed hitter. Dickie watched him play on television many times. He knew this hitter could catch up to a 95 miles per hour fastball. He had to dial up 100 and hope Cass could hold on. He fired at 100 and the pitch was right down the middle for strike one. Unfortunately, Cass could not hold the ball and it got away – the runner went to third base.

Cass called time out this time and ran to the mound. “What the hell – how fast was that one?”

Dickie held the glove up over his face, to hide from any lip readers. “What pitch is best for you to catch? I’ll throw it.”

Cass lifted his mask and covered his mouth. “Curveball.”

Dickie threw 2 nasty curveballs and struck out the batter to end the inning without any damage occurring. Cass was able to hold on and their first inning was a success. Or so Dickie thought…

Dickie walked off the mound and gave Cass a fist bump before he sat down. Cass searched for some water. Barry walked over and shook Dickie’s hand. “Great pitching kid – way to escape -especially with that idiot behind the plate.”

Dickie looked at Barry dead on. “Cass got me through the inning, Skip. No kidding.”

Barry looked away and then back at Dickie. “He’s off the team after today.”

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