Copyright© 2016 by Tony Stevens
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Marty Coggins was just an oversized small-town boy from New Mexico who wanted to play in the big leagues. Trouble was, Marty was a terrible defensive player. And he'd been drafted by a National League club. No future for lousy fielders in the NL. But Marty could flat-out hit. Nothing to do but keep on keeping on.
I had only been in the Gwinnett Braves’ ballpark in Lawrenceville, Georgia for two days when Mel Newhouse, the club’s manager, gave me the nickname I’ll never live down.
“Jesus!” Newhouse yelled, dropping his fungo bat in disgust, “you’re the worst fucking fielder I’ve ever seen beyond the level of Little League!”
“Sorry,” I said, weakly.
“The Jackson guys warned me you couldn’t catch a fucking cold,” Newhouse fumed, “but I thought it was just an exaggeration.”
“Well, I’m a designated hitter,” I told him. “I never claimed I was a good defensive guy.”
Newhouse just snorted at me like a small bull. “Last year the Double-A coaches told the Braves they thought they could train you. Looks like they were wrong.”
“Everybody always thinks they can make me a better fielder,” I told Newhouse. “And I’ve tried. But, damn it, I just haven’t been able to improve much. I’m just a DH. Always have been.”
“Well, you’ve now arrived in Triple-A ball with a National League club. You can be a designated hitter here, in Gwinnett, but the big club ain’t gonna want to have a guy on their bench who can’t catch a ground ball or throw out a runner.”
“My arm’s pretty strong,” I told him.
“Oh, you can throw long, I’ll give you that,” Newhouse said, “but you can’t throw straight! You’re the damnedest piece of work I ever saw! Yesterday, in batting practice, you looked like a primo fucking player. A real prospect! I got all excited, thought I had me a ballplayer. But you can’t field for shit! Where did they play you in the Southern League?”
“I told you. I was the DH – full time ... and I hit 319 for last season, with 23 homers.”
“Well, the Atlanta Fucking Braves ain’t got no DH, kid. If you can’t play defense, you won’t be worth shit in the National League.”
Well, hell, I knew that. I wasn’t stupid. I’d heard all this before. I had accepted – long before anyone else had – that I was a truly awful gloveman. Why a National League club had drafted me in the first place, I would never understand!
But it was the same everywhere they sent me – Class A, Double-A ball in Jackson, Miss., and now here in Lawrenceville, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. I had been elevated to the Gwinnett (County) Braves in the International League. Triple-A ball, gateway to the Majors. I would be their Designated Hitter, just as I had been everywhere I had ever been assigned to play.
At each stage of my career, all the way back to high school, there had been somebody – sometimes whole groups of somebodies – who were absolutely certain that my defensive abilities could be improved under their skilled tutelage. I figured out, early-on, that they’d be disappointed after just a short while. Each time, until they eventually gave up on teaching me to play second base or left field, I would give it my very best shot.
Hell, I always hoped that they’d turn out to be right. My attitude was that I was completely coachable. But I was afraid I already knew how it would turn out.
The mystery was, Atlanta had wasted a third-round draft choice on me. The scouts must surely have told them that I couldn’t play defense worth a damn!
Why in blazes hadn’t I been drafted by an American League club?
Newhouse finally stopped hitting me fly balls in left field and pointed me at second base. For the next half hour, he hit hard ground balls to me, over and over.
Well, I caught some of them. Quite a few got by me. I wasn’t too quick going to my left.
Or to my right, for that matter.
Finally, he called me in. “Just leave the balls. The Kid will pick ‘em up.”
When I got closer to him, Newhouse shook his head in disgust. “Used to be a guy – first baseman, back in the sixties. His name was Dick Stuart. He was a lousy fielder. They called him ‘Stonefingers.’
“Stuart was like you: a good-hit, no-field kinda guy. But I seen ol’ Dave play, lotsa times, back when he was with the Pirates ... And then later, with the Red Sox. They didn’t have no fucking Designated Hitter rule back then. A player had to fucking play. Now, this guy – Stuart -- was a helluva hitter. Lots of power. Decent average, too. Oh, yeah, he kicked a lot of balls at first base. A whole lot of balls. The smart-ass writers started calling him ‘Dr. Strangeglove’ – like in the movie.”
Newhouse stopped walking toward the dugout and looked up at me and frowned. He’s a little short guy. Got a pug nose. Ever see a picture of J. Edgar Hoover? Old-time FBI Guy? Newhouse looks kinda like him. Me, I’m like 6’4”. “You sure-to-God better be one helluva hitter, Coggins, because I gotta tell you: Dick Stuart, rest his immortal soul, well, he looked like a fucking Baryshnikov out there, at first base, compared to your sorry ass!”
Well, I’d made my peace long ago with the fact that I couldn’t play defense. It wasn’t my goddamned fault the Atlanta Braves had drafted me. It should have been obvious that I was born to be a Designated Hitter, pure and simple. And the irony of it was, I could go on being one, right here in Triple-A ball, playing something like thirty goddamned miles away from the Big Club’s ballpark.
Baseball is just weird, man. You can be a Designated Hitter just about anywhere -- anywhere at all in organized baseball, except for the goddamned National League. All the minor league clubs, all the amateur clubs, the NCAA - every-fucking-body in the universe has adopted the Designated Hitter rule. Except for the National League.
Well, fuck ‘em. They could call me Stonefingers, or Dr. Strangeglove, or any other damned thing they wanted. I am Marty Coggins, I’m 24 years old and I can hit a baseball long and far and often, and I don’t strike out all that much, and I’m ready, right now, to help the Atlanta Braves or any other major league ballclub, this very season. Right now! Somebody just needs to give me a shot.