Triple-A Dushay
Chapter 1

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Heterosexual,

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Todd Dushay didn't have much experience with being close to people or part of a family. Getting involved had never been his style. Was he ready for the responsibilities that would come with extending a hand to this woman and her little boy?

When the Orioles broke for home on March 31 after spring training in Florida, I was semi-amazed to find that I was heading north with the big club.

I mean, all the cuts earlier in the spring had been made, right? I could count to twenty-five, and it certainly appeared that I was one of the twenty-five guys Paul Warren had decided to take with him to Camden Yards.

But I had been in similar situations before. Couple of times, in fact. Four years ago, when I was only twenty-seven, it looked as if the Brewers were going to take me with them for Opening Day.

Instead, they traded my contract to the Seattle Mariners, and the Mariners assigned me to their Triple-A franchise in Tacoma.

Pretty darn close to the big leagues. Seattle and Tacoma share the same airport.

The disappointment of not going north with the Brewers had been somewhat assuaged by my pleasure at being picked up by Seattle. Rightly or wrongly, I had a higher opinion of the Mariners' franchise and saw myself climbing to the top faster there, and I'd more likely be playing for a contender when it happened.

Well, the "top" proved elusive.

Oh, it's not like I never got a smell. I was brought up in September that year when the rosters were expanded. I got my first chance to play in the Bigs. But the Mariners were in contention right down to the final week, and that meant my chances to play in the waning days of the season were pretty limited.

Nobody misled me. I was reassigned to Tacoma's roster for the next season and was on notice, right from the outset, that I'd be spending my second straight year in Triple-A.

During my second year playing for the Mariners' top farm, I got traded to the Orioles late in the year and made the lateral move from Tacoma to the Orioles' AAA franchise in Norfolk, Virginia.

From the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast.

Big move.

But a small result. Coast to coast, but still triple-A all the way.

I wasn't too pleased with my prospects. The Orioles were a solid contender these days, and they had an infield that I couldn't see myself crashing anytime soon. My hitting was only so-so, suggesting that even designated hitter wasn't a position I was going to be in line to inherit.

Second base was my best position, although I could fill in at shortstop or third without my club's having to sacrifice too much on defense.

It was my unimpressive power stats and mediocre batting average that were keeping me in Norfolk.

But the Orioles, still trying to build an optimum machine for winning over the long haul, made some major trades and acquisitions while I was in Norfolk. By far the biggest was when they picked up, during the off season of the same year that my contract had been acquired, Houston's heavy-hitting centerfielder, Zeke "The Streak" Taylor.

Inside of two seasons in Baltimore, Taylor, a free agent with an already stellar career in the National League, had moved the Birds from an outside contender to an AL East powerhouse. The long period of Red Sox-Yankee domination of the Division, if not exactly at an end, was at least being significantly challenged.

My "acquisition" by the Orioles made somewhat less of a splash. In fact, I would spend two more years in the minors before getting my shot this past April. Okay, so the Orioles had brought me up the previous September, just as the Mariners had two seasons earlier. It was like I wasn't allowed in a major league ballpark unless there was a fall chill in the air.

But not this year. Now it was July, and there was no sign of a chill in the air in Baltimore. Actually, a little breeze would have been welcome.

I was getting very little playing time, but there didn't seem to be any immediate likelihood of my being sent back down, either. Paul Warren, the Orioles' manager, told me I reminded him of David Newhan. I didn't know it at the time, but Warren was paying me a high compliment. Seven or eight years back, when Warren was himself still an Orioles infielder, the acquisition of utility man David Newhan had been the impetus for Warren's decision to call it a career as a player.

Newhan, like me, was a versatile defensive player who had performed competently at several positions -- including outfield. I had never played in the outfield and wasn't eager to start, but Warren still saw me as a "David Newhan type," and evidently that was a very good thing to be in his eyes.

So I stayed alert on the Orioles' bench, ready to play at a moment's notice: to go in as a defensive replacement in the late innings, occasionally pinch hit for a left-handed hitter, and start at second, short, or third now and again in order to give one of the regular infielders a one-game breather.

I was hitting .252 with eleven ribbies for the season, but that wasn't so awful, given the isolated chances I'd gotten to play. Warren seemed satisfied, and I'd already spent three times as much time in the major leagues as the combined periods of my two earlier extremely brief late-season shots in the majors.

After almost four months of drawing a major league salary, all my back debts were paid, I had a brand-new car -- a Toyota Camry -- for the first time in my young life, and there was an excellent chance that the Orioles would make the post-season and take me with them to the playoffs.

Now, wouldn't that be nice? I was a happy fella.

Well, I got one of my rare starts in the final game of a three-game home series against the Blue Jays, and in the eighth inning with the Orioles trailing 5-3 with a man on first, I got a double that moved the runner to third.

There we were, two on and only one out, and our leadoff guy, Josh Brennan, coming to bat.

Now, you gotta understand, Josh Brennan is the best hitter, year in and year out, in either league. The guy's on-base percentage is off the charts. Josh has no power to speak of, but with men on second and third, there's just about noooo-body a manager would rather have up at the plate.

So it wasn't exactly a shock when the Toronto manager signaled his pitcher to put Josh on with an intentional walk. With one out, it was a good, standard move. Sure, he'd be putting the go-ahead run on first with only one out, but he'd also be setting up the possible inning-ending double play.

It was pretty much Baseball 101.

Then, too, our number two hitter -- Spider Welch -- was a fine offensive talent, but he was a long way from the Josh Brennan class. Not as far away as yours truly, perhaps, but anyway -- far.

With the bases loaded it was pretty much a run-on-anything situation. We could get within one run of the lead even on a feeble ground-ball infield out, and I knew our runner at third was ready to head home on any ball hit on the ground.

And that's what we got from Spider. It was a hard ground ball deep on the third base side of the shortstop, and I knew the runner on third was going to score, no matter what.

I figured to make third on the play, and it looked like a tough-enough fielding chance that Spider might even beat the throw to first base for an infield single.

Trouble was, I had to skip and jump to avoid getting hit by the batted ball, and it threw my stride off, going to third.

Damned if their shortstop didn't just make a last-second decision to try for me, going into third, instead of making the long, chancy throw to first. I beat the ball there so there was no force play, but the throw surprised the hell out of me. Instinct took over, and I slid in head-first as a way to avoid overrunning the bag.

I think the throw surprised Toronto's third sacker, too.

The umpire was signaling "safe," and I was trying my damnedest to stop my momentum before I slid on past and got tagged out anyway.

The Blue Jays' third baseman lost his balance and started falling over my prostrate body. All of me was past third except for one foot, my toes dug awkwardly into the bag and trying not to get separated from it.

The third baseman, a big bulky dude, fell on my foot and, oh, Jesus God, but it hurt! I drew my leg up close to myself, forgetting all about maintaining contact with third base, but the play was over, and I never did get tagged. The ball ended up rolling free into short left field, and our third base coach was hollering at me to get up and head for home, but, shit, I wasn't going anywhere.

Finally I scooched around on my stomach, got a hand back on third base, and officially ended the play.

Then they came and got me. Next stop, Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Well, it could have been a lot worse. He had stomped on my foot -- hard -- and it hurt like a sonuvabitch, and I had the whole Curt Schilling thing going -- blood on my sock, the works. Everything but a Purple Heart.

But, unlike Curt Schilling, I wasn't soldiering on, I was lying on the ground, writhing some and feeling damned sorry for myself the whole time.

Turned out that the crash had damaged, but not severed, my Achilles tendon. He'd left some nice spike marks on that little strip of skin there, whatever you call it. The one on the back of your foot, between the tendon and the ankle bone?

Dirty, filthy spike marks.

At the emergency room they gave me some kind of local down there so that they could play with my foot to their hearts' content and I could watch the whole thing but not suffer unduly while doing so. I got the blow-by-blow, including reassurance from some nameless doctor that the tendon was still more or less intact, although shredded a bit here and there.

The surgery and cleanup were perfunctory. Mostly I had to be protected from the likelihood of infection and X-rayed to assure that there were no broken or cracked bones involved.

My foot was swollen and black and reminded me of those old trench foot movies they'd shown us back in Army Reserve training.

But the news, essentially, was reassuring. I'd be in the hospital overnight and probably released the next day -- midday at the latest.

The Orioles would be leaving in the morning for Detroit and then Cleveland. They'd be gone for seven days.

I would be out of the hospital, but I would also be out of action. Probably, the ER resident told me, I wouldn't play for something in excess of seven days.

It worried me a lot, simply because I knew I was a fringe player, and when a fringe player is disabled for longer than a day or two, the first thing his club does is to find themselves another fringe player to take his place.

If Fringe Guy Number Two turns out to get a few lucky scratch hits during my extended absence, I might find myself once again a mainstay of the Norfolk Tides.

I'd be Triple-A Dushay, once again.

Probably if the club hadn't been flying out of Baltimore-Washington International the following morning, somebody -- maybe my fellow bench-jockey, the outfielder, Travis Horton -- would have come around to see me in the hospital.

But I did at least get a phone call from the manager, Paul Warren, late that night. He told me the team doctor had been unavailable that night, but that the doc would be by to see me in the morning before I was released from the hospital. The Johns Hopkins administrative staff had already assured Paul that I was going to be okay, and that I was being held overnight only because of the substantial painkillers I'd been given.

Warren said they'd probably put me on the fifteen-day disabled list, but that it might be made retroactive so that I'd be out for less than the full fifteen -- if the doctors agreed that I'd be ready to play sooner than that.

"You bringing anybody up to take my spot?"

"Nobody's going to take your spot, Todd. We might have to bring somebody up temporarily, depending on how long you're going to be out."

"It'll be Cassidy, right?"

Herm Cassidy was in Bowie, right down the road from Baltimore. He was playing in Double-A, but it wasn't because he couldn't have made the team in Norfolk. He was young and highly regarded, and had signed out of college two years earlier for a big, big bonus. Herm Cassidy was a threat -- a job-security threat looming just over the horizon. And he wasn't just a threat to me, either. He was a threat to the Orioles' starting second sacker, Gomer Fitzroy.

Like yours truly, nobody was ever going to mistake Gomer for Ryne Sandberg in the field or at bat. But the threat to Gomer Fitzroy was more in the scenario of Cassidy's coming in and turning Gomer into me -- a reserve infielder.

The threat to me was far more substantial. I was already the reserve infielder. My next stop was Norfolk -- again.

Or maybe even Bowie. They'd have to change my nickname.

So I mumbled a few choice curses that night, all of them directed at the Toronto Blue Jays' oversized third baseman and his big, clumsy spiked feet.

I felt sorry for myself in the extreme, but I was most assuredly not in physical pain. Whatever the hell they'd shot me up with, it was the Good Stuff, Dude! I was floating.

I'd worry about my troubles in the morning.

I woke up to a bright, sunny July morning, and the first thing I saw was a bald-headed little kid, maybe five, six years old, standing by the bed looking at me.

"Who are you?" I asked the kid. He looked like a patient. I mean, you see a bald-headed kid in a hospital, and he's wearing pajamas, you gotta figure he's a patient.

"I'm Nolan Ryan," he said.

"Nolan Ryan? ... Like the pitcher?"

"Yeah. Like the pitcher."

"No kidding! ... Ryan is your last name?"

"No. Nolan Ryan's my name," he said. "Nolan Ryan O'Conner."

"You're a patient here, right?"

"Why? Just because I've got a bald head, I've gotta be a patient here?"

"Well. How about the pajamas? You come visit people in the hospital in your pajamas?"

"Okay, okay. I'm a patient."

"In the children's ward, right?"

"No. In this ward ... I'm a dwarf."

"You've got a smart mouth, that's for sure."

"It's just that you ask funny questions. Hey, I know who you are!"

"You know who I am? Who am I?"

"You're with the Orioles! You're a ballplayer. Todd Dushay!"

"That's right. How'd you know that?"

"I heard some reporters, last night, asking about you at the Admissions Desk."

"Last night?"

"Yeah. The hospital lady told them you couldn't have any visitors. But she told them they could come back today and see you, and she gave them your room number."

"Haven't seen 'em."

"It's real early. They probably wouldn't let them in this early. I came up to meet you and get your autograph."

Just then a nurse came in. She seemed surprised to find the kid in my room.

Who're you?" she asked him.

"Nolan Ryan," he told her.

"Like the ballplayer?"

It was deja vu all over again. Now she's going to ask him if he's a patient.

But she didn't ask. Probably she was a little quicker on the draw this morning than I had been. "Would you please wait here while I check with the children's ward?" she asked him.

"I will if it's okay with Todd. He's the one I came up here to see. Todd plays for the Orioles!"

The nurse looked at me for guidance and I shrugged. It was fine with me if the kid wanted to hang out for a few minutes. She took off, probably to investigate where Nolan Ryan was supposed to be.

"I wander around a lot," Nolan told me. "Mostly, nobody minds. If I don't stay away from my ward for too long, mostly they don't miss me."

"So you wanted to see me because I was a ballplayer?"

"Sure! This place is really boring. You're the most exciting thing that's ever happened while I was here -- ever!"

That struck me as pretty funny. I had known, back when the Orioles had first come north for the season, that Zeke Taylor's wife was some kind of a hospital official, and I once asked Zeke about making hospital visits to see kids who were patients.

"The Babe Ruth thing?" Zeke had said.


"Babe Ruth. You remember in the old movie about Babe Ruth, he visits this kid in the hospital? And he promises to hit a homer for him, or something?"

"Yeah. Sure ... Hokey movie."

"Well," Zeke said, "Don't judge too harshly. It was a different era ... Anyway, I think that's where it comes from. Ballplayers, wanting to go visit kids in hospitals. From the Babe Ruth movie."

"Maybe," I said. "You ever do it?"

Zeke laughed, hard -- as if I'd said something really witty. "It's how I met my wife!" he said.

"No kidding?"

"No kidding," Zeke said. " ... But you want to connect with kids, you maybe ought to do what I do -- what my wife does, too. Help out with Little League. This visiting kids in hospitals thing, it doesn't work that well."

So I never had visited any kids in hospitals around Baltimore. Never had gotten around to working with the Little League, either, although I acknowledged that it would be a good thing for me to do.

But now, here I was, myself a hospital patient, and I've got a kid visiting me.

Wait until I tell ol' Zeke.

But I finally turned my wandering attention back to the kid. After all, he'd made a special trip from the cancer ward, or wherever the hell they were keeping him, up to get my autograph. The least I could do would be to pay him some attention.

"You got something I can write on?" I asked him.

"Sure! I thought of that before I came up here. I wish I had my autograph book, but it's home. Maybe my mom could bring it, next time she comes, if you're still here."

"Sorry, kid. They're probably going to be letting me out of here today."

"Shoot! ... I mean, I'm glad they're going to let you out, but I mean, it's too bad I won't have time for you to sign in my book."

"Well, maybe you could call her, on the phone, ask her to bring it in today."

"She's probably already here or on her way," he said. "She's here with me most all the time, except at night."

"Sounds like a good mom."


"It's funny, Nolan. I was talking once to Zeke Taylor about visiting kids in the hospital, you know? And Zeke said he'd done that -- visited kids who were in the hospital -- but that most of them didn't much care about being visited by ballplayers."

"God! You know Zeke Taylor! Jeez!"

"Well, yeah ... I mean, Zeke and I are teammates 'n all, you know?"

"Yeah, but ... jeez! Zeke the Streak! ... Hey, you think he might come and visit you while you're here in the hospital?"

"Sorry, kid. The club's flying out for Detroit this very morning. Won't be anybody visiting me except the team doctor."

I looked at the tiny kid and regretted his lost opportunity to meet Zeke Taylor. "You know," I told him, "I'm surprised to find a kid your age who's so interested in baseball already. I mean, you're a little young."

"Well, I'm not just any kid. I've been an Orioles' fan all my life!"

I laughed. "All your life, huh? ... Long time."

"Hey, I'm nine! I know that's not very old, but I know about the Orioles. And Zeke Taylor! Wow!"

Nolan Ryan O'Conner was nine! My heart sank in my chest. Kid looked to be maybe five years old. Six, tops.

"Hey, listen, they're gonna come and get me out of your room any minute. Could you go ahead and give me your autograph before I go?"

"Sure. Sure I can. It's not every day Nolan Ryan asks me for my autograph!"

"Hey, listen, please don't kid me about my name. I gotta pretend all the time that I'm all mad about my folks giving me that name, but I'm not, really, y'know? I'm kinda glad about it. And I know all about Nolan Ryan's stats and stuff."

"Well, he was a heckuva pitcher," I said agreeably.

"No shit! Did you ... whoops, sorry about that ... Did you ever have to hit against him?"

I laughed. "No, no, he was way before my time, kid. He's been retired for a long time now ... before you were born, maybe."

"Yeah, I know," Nolan said. "I should have known you were too young to have played against him. I guess even The Streak is too young."

Zeke Taylor and I were pretty close to the same age. His much longer major league playing career made him seem older to me, too -- not just to the kid. "Yeah, I think Zeke's too young, too. But you know, Zeke used to play for the Astros. He might have met Ryan at some point."

"Naw. Nolan Ryan finished up with the Rangers, mostly," the kid said. "He's some kind of a boss with the Rangers, even now! Sure, he played for Houston, but that was probably way before Zeke Taylor was a player there."

"Yeah, I think you're right. Hey, you know a lot about ballplayers, for a little guy."

"Makes sense I'd know about Nolan Ryan," the kid said. "And like I said, I'm an O's fan all my life. So I know about The Streak. And you."

"Even me, huh?"

"Hey, you're gonna be good, man! It's just that the Birds are so deep in the infield, it's hard for you to break in! You're gonna get your shot!"

"I hope you're right, Nolan."

"Nolan! What in the world are you doing here?" It wasn't the nurse. It was a pretty young woman with freckles on her pug nose, and short, dark reddish hair.

"It's my mom," Nolan said, sounding disappointed at having been discovered.

The woman, dressed in jeans and a pullover blouse, dropped to her knees on the room's tiled floor, gathered the little boy into her arms, and hugged him.

"When I got here this morning, they didn't know where you were."

"Relax, mom. You know I like to wander around."

"Yes, but you promised me you'd keep it down to a low roar," she said.

"I'm sorry," he told her. "But this was something special. This here is Todd Dushay!"

I could tell that Nolan Ryan's mother didn't know who in blazes Todd Dushay might be. That's okay, I was used to it. Playing the last four seasons in Triple A can do that for you. They could put guys there who were in the Witness Protection Program.

But she was polite. "Happy to meet you, Mr. Touché" she said. "I hope Nolan hasn't been a nuisance this morning."

"Dushay," I corrected gently. "And, no, Nolan and I have been having a good time, talking baseball."

"He's a baseball nut," she said. "Oh ... my name is Maureen O'Conner, Mr. Dushay."

"Maureen O'Conner, huh? ... Polish immigrant, I assume?"

"What? ... Oh! I guess our Irish heritage is pretty evident, huh?"

"Well, you should have named Junior here Pedro Martinez O'Conner if you were going for mystery."

"It was his father's idea, naming him for the ballplayer," she said. "Ray was a fan ... and a Texan."

"My daddy's dead," Nolan Ryan said.

"Oh ... I'm sorry," I said.

"He died in the war."

"Nolan's father was a Marine officer. He was killed in Iraq. Two years ago."

"I'm very sorry," I said again.

"My dad taught me all about baseball!" Nolan said. "He said if I practiced hard and really worked at it, I could maybe be a player when I grew up."

"You know, my dad told me that very same thing," I told him, "and you know what? He was right! I worked hard and kept at it, and, whatdayaknow? Now I'm in the majors!"

"Only you never got cancer, did you?" Nolan said.

"No ... No, I didn't. But there are guys who've had cancer -- even guys who were already players in the majors -- and they've come back from it and continued playing, good as ever! You know about Jon Lester with Boston? He pitched a no hitter a couple years back. He's a guy, came back from cancer!"

"He was a player?"

"He still is! He's one of the Red Sox' best pitchers."

It felt great, telling the kid about Lester. I knew there had been other athletes, in baseball and in other sports, who'd also come back from the disease. I only wished that I had all their names at my fingertips.

"Nolan, we'd better go now," his mother said gently. "Mr. Dushay needs to rest."

She looked into her son's eyes. "You haven't even had breakfast, have you?"

"I just wasn't hungry when they brought it around, Mom ... But I could eat something now. Could we maybe go down to the cafeteria? They got scrambled eggs with cheese in them! I love scrambled eggs and cheese, and they never give me that for breakfast in the ward!"

"I like cheese in my scrambled eggs, too," I said. "But you know what I got for breakfast? French toast! French toast! Yuk!"

"Why don't you come down to the cafeteria with us, Todd? We could all have the cheesy eggs!"

"Nolan, it's not proper for you to call Mr. Dushay by his first name like that. Call him Mr. Dushay."

"Aw, Mom! Todd's a ballplayer! Everybody calls ballplayers by their first names!"

"He's right, Ms. O'Conner. You can both call me Todd."

Just don't call me by my nickname. The derisive nickname I've picked up as a career minor leaguer. "Triple-A Dushay." So far, it's stuck pretty tightly. This is my year to try to live it down.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Heterosexual /