MOMENTS LIKE THESE

Mark Johnson
3 min readMar 28, 2024

The moment was now getting bigger than Lou Casteel had ever lived, and he knew he would either love or hate the retelling of this moment. It was the bottom of the 9th inning, and his team, the L.A. Dodgers, were up by one run with the bases loaded.

Lou, a lefty stood tall on the mound. His 6'7 athletic frame made for an imposing figure to each batter he had faced in the late evening sun of Cleveland. At the plate was the crafty Sammy Smothers looking back at his Guardians dugout for a sign from his team manager. The count was full, and Lou had just tried to overpower Sammy at the plate with his fastball outside, which Sammy fouled off with a vicious late hacking swing.

The next pitch couldn’t be another pounding fastball now that Sammy had tasted it. Lou looked at the sign his catcher gave him, hiding it behind his mitt. Lou squinted his eyes and wiped his brow. His mind was growing weary as he kicked dirt around on the mound. He held the ball tight to squeeze out every advantage before throwing his next pitch. The crowd in attendance at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio, growing impatient, biting their nails and gripping their rally caps, eyes glued to the unraveling drama on the field.

Joe’s catcher was now calling on him to throw his curve ball. Lou shook it off. In his mind, he wasn’t feeling all that confident about that pitch, having had some control issues earlier in the game. The pressure of the moment was meeting Lou and his team head-on. The Cleveland team’s fans reawoke ready for a rally that would bring them the win, as the noise throughout the stadium raised, sounding like a locomotive bounding down the track.

Sammy stepped back to the plate, digging his feet deep, and spitting a dark blast of liquid chaw in Lou’s direction. As the temperature dropped, the evening became night. Sammy focused on Lou with a stoic glare as he got into his compact stance, which put him in the zone, ready for another pitch.

Lou’s catcher motioned for another pitch. This time, it was Joe’s cutter. This selection relieved Joe as it was a pitch he had confidence in and had results that night. Furthermore it was also a pitch Sammy would not be expecting as the moment called for a fastball this would be a great switch up.

Lou nodded in agreement with his catcher, and then he looked at the runner on third, concealing his grip on the ball for his cutter with his glove. The crowd still relentlessly cheered and jeered the road team something awful and then would go nearly dead silent with the delivery of the pitch.

Lou then broke into his pitch, firing the ball like a canon from his hand. Sammy held it in his gaze, seeming as if it was coming straight down the plate like a meteor. Sammy’s eyes lit up, feeling he had gotten what he had expected. This was his moment. With a quick and mighty swing, Sammy took a powerful stroke at the nasty pitch.

The pitch dropped dramatically at the last possible second, snapping the catcher’s glove with a tremendous pop. Lou had struck out the side to win the game in dramatic form as the crowd was in disbelief seeing Sammy’s body torque and dirt kicked up, but the ferocious swing missed the spinning pitch. In disgust, the crowd moaned and groaned. Lou had taken it to a new level with a wicked last pitch as his teammates rushed the mound ecstatic, allowing his L.A. Dodgers a colossal win and stopping the Indian’s unbelievable rally.

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Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.