The Shortstop

We were in Jimmy’s backyard playing Wiffle ball when the news broke that the shortstop had been traded.

Traded? Jimmy said, turning to me. Him?

We ran up the little hill and slid open the screen door. On TV old clips played of the shortstop doing his trademark prepitch routine—an odd, twitchy ritual we knew by heart. We watched him go through the well-known steps: batting gloves first, fingers waggling, then the tugged wristband, the tapped chest, hip, back pocket, belt, palm to the shining blue helmet, bat rapped gently on his left shoulder, then the toe taps, one foot and then the other, four taps in all, one, two, three, four.

A four-team deal, they were saying on the TV. Two players coming back, both journeymen, their names faintly known. A first baseman and—a shortstop.

A shortstop, Jimmy said.

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