Baseball Annie

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This is a fictional account of a fictional, 1987 baseball team. The Minnesota Twins aren’t a fictional team, and they did win the World Series in 1987. They played in an indoor park that many thought was only somewhat real. The characters in this fictional story are entirely fictional. They are not meant to represent any real person.

Baseball Annie
By Angela Rasch

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on others.” - Jackie Robinson

American Legion Post #21 Baseball Field
Kenosha, Wisconsin
June 4, 1972

Between innings, WOOK (AM radio) was played over the public address system. Luck was with the fans; they missed the ads for seed corn and fast food and heard tunes by BTO, Grand Funk and Lynyrd Skynard.

Andy Blake played second base for Kenosha American Legion. His home was Racine, Wisconsin, which was twelve miles north of Kenosha on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Andy was just getting to know his teammates, who were a year or two older than him. He had been invited to play with them because of his phenomenal talent. Even though it was only the fifth game of the season, most of the players already considered Andy to be their friend.

Andy’s dad wasn’t his coach; he had been every season up until then. Walt Blake had already passed on to Andy a considerable amount of baseball knowledge. In his day, Walt had also been a “phenom.”

Even though WOOK had played the Mills Brothers, Patti Page, and Tony Bennett when Walt played, the game of baseball was timeless. There was only one way to play - if you were a true Blake, you did all you could to give your team the best chance of winning.

Andy looked to the stands. As always, his dad sat by himself directly behind the catcher, about ten rows up. The Blakes were outgoing and did what they could to be as nice as possible. It was just -- well -- this was a ball game. You had to have your priorities. It wouldn’t do for Walt to move away from what he considered to be a lucky seat to sit next to someone he knew.

Andy was obsessed with the game his dad had taught him. The smell of his glove, the secure feel of a well-made uniform, and the texture of a new ball; all of those were dear to his heart.

Andy squinted his eyes again and scanned the crowd. In his heart, he believed she was always there. She had died suddenly from an intracranial aneurysm. In the twelve years they had enjoyed together, she had shown Andy the importance of respect; and had taught him not to be frugal with his love. He gave freely of himself to all around him and felt their love in return. To honor his mother, Andy freely granted concern and sympathy when he communicated with others.

“Coming down.” The catcher caught the last warm-up pitch and heaved the ball toward second base, trusting Andy would be there when the ball arrived. Andy moved to take the throw with the grace of one who had a purpose in life and the talent to complete what he started.

Walt watched his son finish the play with a toss to the third basemen. It was considered unlucky for the second baseman to throw the ball directly to the pitcher. Walt knew precisely where his son’s career was going. Andy would play a year of college ball at Texas A&M, before signing a professional contract. He would then play a year in the instructional leagues, then four years working his way through the minors. He would take his rightful spot in the “show” just prior to his 24th birthday. Andy was a little small for fourteen years old at 5’5” and 125 pounds, but Walt was confident that Andy would grow and put on weight.

The career Walt planned for Andy left no alternative. Walt missed his shot at the majors, when he had suffered a freak injury in “AA” league -- two steps removed from the major leagues. A hot smash “handcuffed” him and shattered his right elbow; an injury that was considered irreparable in the fifties. Walt was content. As any father worthy of being called “Dad” can tell you, watching your son succeed is much more pleasurable than making it yourself.

Andy smiled more than any other boy Walt had ever seen. Also distinguishing Andy from the other boys was his playful approach to life. Most boys who are different have problems, but Andy’s proficiency on the field gained him an exemption. Andy was invited to all the post-game parties. Several of the guys set him up on dates, some with their sisters.

The older Blake focused on the field, not allowing himself to miss a move his son made. They would later review every nuance of every play. If only. Walt never allowed himself to go too far down that path. She was gone. He had to concentrate on Andy. Andy was his life. They had no other living family; no grandparents, no brothers, sisters, uncles, or aunts.

The Blakes were pragmatists. Their concerns were satisfying needs and creating desired results. When a chapter of their life ended, they moved on quickly and completely. Walt loved Andy even more than he loved baseball. What he wanted for Andy was what he thought was best. Baseball was the best thing in life, if you were lucky enough to be able to play.

***

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
June 4, 1972

She was the prettiest girl in the ballpark; a slight honor, since there were only two other girls in attendance. “Most Beautiful” wasn’t a title she would have sought. She was helping her dad with his work, which had brought them to a night game at a rundown ballpark in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The Northern League was the bottom rung of the minors and Sioux Falls’s team wasn’t in the race for the league championship. The temperature was in the forties. The teams were playing under what passed for lighting, with an overcast sky and threatening rain. It was the fifth game they had attended that week and it was only Thursday. Those drawbacks meant little to Sue. Her love of baseball was mainly because of her love for her dad.

She always kept a scorecard. She carefully filed them in a drawer in her dad’s office for future reference. Her father had taught her to be prepared for quick action by keeping accurate records and notes. Her scorecards were meticulous and carried her personal insights. When the time came, she would be ready to help make the right, timely personnel moves.

“Come on, Tommy. Give it a ride.”

A man sitting two rows down looked back, non-verbally questioning her right to yell at the batter.

“Hit it to the gap, Tommy.”

The man - who appeared to be in his late twenties – turned completely around. Sue ignored his stare. She was bold for a fourteen-year old and quite certain she had no interest in this, or any other, old man. She concentrated on her scorecard.

“Yeeerrr out!” The umpire rang up Tommy with enthusiasm. The ballplayers weren’t the only ones in the park auditioning for a higher calling. Tommy had been caught looking at a called third strike, when a belt-high fastball split the plate. It was a pitch he might have driven to the gap, even in the heavy air of the moist evening.

“That’s okay, Tommy. You’ll get him next time.” She turned over her scorecard and carefully printed, Tommy Barnes needs to protect the plate after two strikes, by shortening his grip on the bat.

“Missy. I’ve been coming to these games all season. I’ve never seen you here before.” The man was dressed for a cool night at the stadium. The left front panel of his windbreaker proudly stated, “We Build Rite, Inc.”

“No, sir. This is my first time to Sioux Falls, this year.”

The P.A. system didn’t announce the batters. They didn’t sell programs and he didn’t know the batter’s name; how in heck could she? “You’re sure that player’s name is Tommy?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You his sister?”

“No, sir.”

“You’re too young to be his gal.” The gentlemen stated the obvious with the intention of solving a profound mystery. We Build Rite, Inc. was projecting an image of rudeness and undue curiosity. “How is it you know that ballplayer’s name?”

“I know all the players’ names.” She was tempted to put in the earplug of her transistor radio. If she was lucky, she could catch Barry White singing “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love” or that dreamy duet with Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, but that would have been disrespectful, even to an oaf like him.

“All the players?” His question dripped with disbelief.

“Yes, on both teams.”

“Bull. Sioux Falls’s players come and go so fast, there’s no one who knows all the players. You say you know the visiting team’s players as well? Sure you do, little lady, and my face is up on Mount Rushmore with Washington and Roosevelt”

“I’m not pulling your leg, sir. The catcher’s name for the Fargo team is Johnson. Craig Johnson. He played his college ball in California, at USC. This is his second year of playing organized ball. The fellow on the mound is Will Tangiers. Will has just signed with “AA” Salt Lake City and will be leaving right after the game. The first basemen is playing in his third game for the Redhawks, he’s really an outfielder and is being forced to play first to see if he has the agility --- he’s Luis Santine. The Orioles just bought his option….”

“Okay, okay, I believe you. You must be the biggest minor league baseball fan in the world.”

“Oh, I’m not really a fan.”

“Not really a fan? What do you mean? You know more about the players than anyone else here tonight.” He took a long pull on his beer, which he had smuggled into the park. No way was he going to pay $1.10 for 3.2 rabbit piss.

“Dad says I need to know more than the next person. I’m a businessperson. Well, my dad is a businessperson and I’m helping him this summer.”

“A businessperson? What business are you and your daddy in?”

“Baseball.”

“Baseball? Huh. Does your daddy sell bats, balls, and uniforms, or something like that?”

“No. My father buys and sells ballplayers. We travel all over looking at prospects and suspects.”

“Say, little girl, what’s your name?”

“You ask a lot of questions, fella.” The voice came from behind the construction worker. When he swung around and stood to face the man talking to him, Sue read the motto on his back, We Build ‘em Rite the First Time. “I’m Red Robinson, Sue’s my daughter. Are you enjoying the game?”

The cowed young man automatically shook the hand offered to him by “Red” Robinson, who was nationally known as the outspoken owner of the Minnesota Twins.

***

The Metrodome
Minneapolis, MN
Sunday, July 19, 1987

Fifteen years later, the P.A. blasted La Bamba - by Los Lobos, not Ritchie Valens - to help the fans watching batting practice get in the mood to buy $2.75 beers. Next, the Beastie Boys sang about fighting for the right to party, and later, John Fogarty lobbied his coach about more playing time in centerfield.

All this was irrelevant to Andy’s game preparation. Had he glanced up at the Jumbotron during his wind sprints in the outfield, he would have seen a candid picture of his buddy Steve Nelson, with a wad of chewing gum stuck to the bill of his cap. The Dome cameraman was amusing the early crowd by showing close-ups of the players on the field. Those not familiar with baseball superstitions might have thought Steve was a slob, sticking his unwanted gum wherever he pleased, but those who understood baseball notions knew that the wad of gum on the bill of his cap was Steve’s method of removing the hex someone had placed on his bats --- causing him to go 3 for 29 over the past week.

The outcomes of many sporting events are based on luck rather than actual performance. A gust of wind at the right (or wrong) time will push a field goal wide. The total number of points each player wins in a tennis match can be contrary to the number of games they win. The total number of games they win might seem entirely backward from who wins the match. A player could win a match 7-5, 7-5, 0-6, 0-6 and 7-5. In that case, the loser would have won 27 games while the winner won only 21. In baseball, your team could win one game by fifteen and lose the next fifteen by one run each. Over the space of sixteen games, you would have scored the same number of runs as your opponents, but would be fourteen wins below .500.

The gods of sports are not always fair when they choose a winner. Bad luck had a hold on the Minnesota Twins. They were about to play in their third game after the All-Star break. Their team batting average was .265. It was good enough for third in the majors. The Twins team ERA was 3.82, fifth in the majors --not that much worse than league leading 3.68. Somehow, they were ten games out of first, in a very weak division.

They were a good fielding team, with only forty total team errors. However, it seemed like every error led to one or two unearned runs. Andy didn’t make errors. In the five years he had been on the Twins, he had a total of twenty-two errors. Most of them had been in Cleveland. Most official scorers bent over backwards to award the home team players hits. Unless you booted the ball out of the park they were going to give their guy a boost in the batting average. In Cleveland, they would rather hurt the opponent fielder’s chance for a Gold Glove.

Andy couldn’t understand why Cleveland’s team and staff didn’t respect the game, but he didn’t hate Cleveland. Andy didn’t hate anyone. Cleveland was merely an obstacle to overcome so Andy could do his job right. It was Andy’s nature to be fair and cooperative. Carrying the sprit of competition too far offended Andy.

There was bad blood between the two clubs. The Twins thought Cleveland went out of their way to jinx them. The Cleveland players were always in places on the field where they shouldn’t have been. If you didn’t watch them, they ran their hands over the Twins’ bats and gloves. Their pitchers made a big production of holding the ball with both hands. Not the normal, rubbing up of the ball that other pitchers do. Rather, they did the two-hand touching which puts dope on the ball to hoodoo the batter.

Andy glanced at section 125 - row 9 - seat 4. The first three years Andy had played for the Twins, that seat had been his dad’s. It was directly behind home plate and high enough up from the field so his dad could see everything. Andy’s father had followed him through the minors. He had seen a few of his games in the Appalachian league, half a dozen when he was with Visalia, and a good number that Andy had played for the Toledo Mudhens. A decade before, the Mudhens had been made famous by Jamie Farr, who had been Corporal Klinger on M*A*S*H. When Andy was called up, Walt quit his job, sold his house in Racine, and moved to the Twin Cities area to watch his son play. He knew the value of family support.

All that ended when Walt’s pickup collided with a speeding car. The dram shop suit was still working its way through the courts. “Dram shop” is a cute name for liquor laws. A dram is a small drink, a liqueur. The person who killed Andy’s father didn’t have any use for liqueur. He was “a shot and a bump” boozehound. When he hit Walt’s car in his rusted out Dodge, his blood alcohol content was .22. He should have been unconscious in some gutter. He had been drinking all day. Four hours at the first bar, two at the second, an hour at the third, and five more hours at the last ... twelve straight hours of whiskey and beer.

Walt Blake had been on his way home from a convenience store where he had bought a ham and cheese sandwich and a bottle of juice for a late snack. Walt hadn’t been one to drink, smoke, or do drugs. Even his alert mind and well-conditioned body couldn’t save him when the pickled lush screamed through a stop sign and T-boned Walt’s pickup on the driver’s side.

The attorney said that Minnesota dram laws held each and every bar punishable “joint and several” under civil action. In discovery, they had found each bar was carrying the insurance coverage required by state statute. Andy’s attorney had told him the total limit of liability available under the four policies was $3.5 million. The lawyer said that since serving that much alcohol to an obviously impaired person was egregious, they would easily win a huge award. Andy wasn’t all that interested. The attorney solicited him after he had read the stories about the accident in the paper. He offered to do the case on contingency. The less Andy thought about the accident, the better. Andy didn’t understand drinking. To him, anything that kept him away from the park was a waste of time.

Andy sought counseling after his father had been killed. He cried himself to sleep many nights and gained relief by opening up to a minister. By reaching out for help, he was able to work through his grief.

For purposes of Andy’s simple life, his father had completed his usefulness. He had taught Andy a work ethic, which allowed him to play for the Twins. Andy would never say this, never think it, but it was Andy’s true perspective.

Andy pounded the weighted doughnut off the bat he used to loosen his shoulders and picked up his glove. He had used the same glove for the past nine years, replacing the leather lacing twice a year. He couldn’t imagine playing with any other. He called his glove “Goldy.” Not that winning a Gold Glove was Andy’s concern. They don’t give Gold Gloves to utility infielders. Andy played when the regulars needed a rest or were injured. He was a Jack-of-All-Trades.

At the end of the previous season, the Twins had been securely in last place, with no hope of climbing out. They played Andy for an inning at each position. It was the kind of thing a franchise would do when they didn’t have much else to attract fans. The inning when he pitched had been the most difficult. His seventy-eight mile-per-hour fastball hadn’t scared anyone. It’s not effective to throw a change-up, if you don’t have a legitimate fastball. The opponents scored two runs before he recorded an out. He was saved from total embarrassment when the next batter hit a near homerun which was caught by the left fielder at the fence. That out was followed by an “at’em” ball, line-drive to the shortstop which wound-up as a double play.

His glove was his prized possession. He didn’t own a car or a home. He lived in an apartment and took a cab to the Dome or the airport. He left so early for games, appointments, or flights that he didn’t have a problem with the occasional slow responding cab.

He could throw, run, and hit with the best, but he couldn’t hit with power; not one homerun in five years. Players complained about “warning track” power; hits that fell a few feet short of being out of the park. Andy didn’t even have that much pop in his bat. Other teams realized his lack of power and played their outfielders as much as fifteen yards closer to the infield, making it difficult for him to get a hit. Balls that might have gone through to the gap were easily cut off. Once or twice a year, he was embarrassed when he was thrown out at first by an outfielder.

Had Andy been one to complain about circumstances, he had a legitimate gripe. He was with the wrong team, in the wrong park, and playing in the wrong league. He was a role player on a team who didn’t have the three or four big time stars to be augmented. The Dome was known as a power hitter’s park. It was 408’ to center and 344’ down the left field line. (Andy was a right-hand hitter.) Andy had enjoyed the advantage of the super-bounce balls took off the Dome’s SporTurf. He had batted balls into the turf in front of the pitcher causing the other team to wait in vain for the ball to come down while he used his speed to get to first (the Dome’s version of the Baltimore chop). He had gotten twenty-two hits that way the previous year. Those twenty-two hits were worth an additional sixty points to his batting average. Unfortunately for Andy, the other teams complained to the commissioner and the Twins switched to the much less lively Astroturf.

Had Andy played in the National league, his skills would have been more appreciated. They didn’t allow a designated hitter. The National League was more apt to manufacturer runs by moving the runner over with a bunt or a hit and run. Traditional baseball would have been better suited to Andy. Without the benefit of the SporTurf hits, Andy would probably bat at or below the Mendoza line.

Andy didn’t dwell on ‘What Ifs’. He lived in the present, not planning too much for the future. Under all his smiles, there was a sadness that went beyond the loss of parents and lack of family. Something wasn’t right. Andy was too focused on baseball to take the steps needed to identify and correct what ailed him.

Andy would have preferred playing every one of his games outdoors. He had a thing about the beauty of clouds on a sunny day, the feel of sun in his face, the smell of rain, and the colors of a sunset. Sometimes Andy would be moved to tears by the majesty of nature. He didn’t share his sensitivity with his teammates or his coaches. He didn’t share it with anyone, as there was no one else in his life.

Andy knew the game and he was great for clubhouse chemistry. Andy saw himself as a ballplayer --period. He valued those principles that allowed him to be a better ballplayer. Alcohol might have hurt his ability to play, so he didn’t drink. Tobacco was bad for the lungs so he didn’t smoke. Smokeless tobacco was a huge distraction, what with all the spitting and chewing, so he didn’t pick up that habit. Less than two percent of the players in the major leagues didn’t smoke, chew, or drink.

Some might have said that Andy had arrested development. Life had been kept stress-free for him, by his parents, and by the Twins organization. He had enjoyed few opportunities for personal growth by overcoming the small adversities in daily life. Others would say he was perfectly suited to make the best of his current situation. He was as good a Twin as he could possibly be. Players respected his professional approach to the game. He was the first player at the park on game day and the last to go home. If the Twins had a problem player, they would have him room with Andy, because of Andy’s steadying influence.

He knew a lot about hitting. His dad had stressed the need to go with the pitch. A batter could have success with just about anything the pitcher threw if he didn’t fight it. Andy had seen many batters pick balls out of the dirt and “golf” them out of the park. Andy’s specialty was dropping the head of the bat to hit low-and-away pitches to the opposite field. This adaptability carried over to Andy’s personal philosophy of life. He went with the flow. If it felt right to him, he knew it was right. Of course, the options presented to Andy were few, because of his Spartan lifestyle.

His contract negotiations were always cordial. Money meant almost nothing to him. He worked for a fair salary as the Twins’ management appreciated his demeanor. He didn’t have an agent. He thought they got in the way. In Andy’s estimation, the damage agents did to player/management relationships didn’t offset the advantages they brought to the table. Andy didn’t want the control or the power in relationships. He just wanted to be the best he could be at what he did.

He didn’t invest his money, as he didn’t want to be bothered. His money was deposited directly into a money market account. He had enough. He could have lived a dozen such simple lifetimes and still have money left over.

Andy had no time for the women who threw themselves at him. Sex wasn’t helpful to his career and therefore was unimportant. Andy thought the world of Mrs. Sue Robinson. She was the only female in his life; although he didn’t really think of her as a female. She was part of the team. They often worked together at baseball clinics for area boys and girls. They seemed to be paired quite often at charity golf tournaments. Andy could talk baseball with her for hours. She really knew her stuff. Even so, he never allowed himself to become familiar with her. Familiarity would have complicated things between them, which could have possibly hurt his baseball career -- or, he could have lost her respect.

The people of Minneapolis/St. Paul loved him and they appreciated his positive attitude, the nurturing work he did with kids, and his obvious giving nature. He did whatever the Twins asked him to do in the way of community activities. He didn’t have a family and didn’t like to party; subsequently, he was almost always available for charities or public appearances. He didn’t do commercials. He wouldn’t do store openings or autograph signing bazaars where he could have sold his signature, although he signed hundreds of autographs daily for free, whenever fans could catch him at a time when he wasn’t working on his game.

Many of the players hated Sunday games, especially when they had to leave on a road trip right after the game. Andy didn’t have a family and thought religion was an imposition. Sunday to Andy was just another day. His philosophy was simple -- be the best player you could be. Being the best meant that you did whatever was needed to help your team win. Unfortunately, it appeared that the best way he could help the Twins might be to be released, so that the Twins could roster a more talented player. Andy was prepared for the inevitable. He was satisfied that he had done his best. As he didn’t think about the future, he wasn’t really too concerned.

***

Executive suite overlooking the playing field
The Metrodome
Minneapolis, MN

Sunday, July 19, 1987

“The Twins have a big financial problem.”

His statement wasn’t news to Sue Robinson. The bearer of bad tidings was the CEO of Norwest Bank. Norwest held the Twins’ operating loan. The Twins weren’t as valuable as most baseball franchises. They had recently been appraised at close to $75 million -- compared to a league average of close to $190 million. Their debt was approaching $45 million. The bank had told her years ago it would not allow the debt to exceed sixty percent of the franchise value. The interest on the loan had exceeded the profit from the operation, the past three years. The deficit was pushing the total debt over the maximum.

The banker had chosen Sunday morning to meet with her to emphasize the magnitude of the situation. He was there to talk at Sue, not with her. Due to low attendance, the fiscal year was projected to be the worst of the past five. Unless things changed quickly, the club would lose about $5 million.

Sue’s office was in the Dome. She could look past the banker’s head, out into the reaches of the Metrodome. She could see the thousands of seats; empty seats. Even though it was Sunday, most of them would still be empty when the game started.

“Red never would’ve allowed this to happen.” The banker paused when he saw Sue wince. She was a wonderful person. He hated to cause her pain, but for her own good, he had to go forward as planned. He took a moment to look her over. She was dressed elegantly as always. She was beautiful and would make someone a great wife. Why she didn’t just give it up, take her money, and live the good life was a mystery to the banker.

Sue understood his intent. She knew her father would’ve had better answers to the problems facing the Twins. If only her father and her husband hadn’t gone to Canada. If only they had come back. If only, she had drowned, along with them. Sue’s father had been her only living relative. He was her life. If someone took a shot at Red’s chin, Sue confronted them. A primary strength of the Twins had been the inseparable team of father and daughter. When Sue had married she had kept the family name.

The Twins were her only source of income. Through guile and hard work, her dad and she had kept the franchise afloat despite being in a small market. They competed with enormously wealthy owners who could use their team’s fiscal losses to offset other gains within their financial empires. It was unfortunate that the Twins played against a stacked deck.

Sue would have gladly spent the value of the franchise down to the last penny, if she could have gotten the increased financial backing from the bankers. Not possessing the same utter disregard for money, the bankers thought her foolish. She could have sold the franchise several times for a good price to people who would’ve moved it to a larger market. Red and Sue had made promises to the people of Minnesota and to themselves. Sue kept her promises. The memory of Red would not allow her to consider a sale, which would jeopardize the future of major league baseball in Minnesota.

The banker knew nothing of family values. He couldn’t possibly appreciate how Sue’s departed family defined her existence. It was cruel fate that her family’s rules were frozen by death, while she lived in a changing society. The inheritance she received was huge, but its value was dwarfed by the responsibility it carried.

She was the matriarch of the Twins. As such, it was as impossible for her to walk away. Not that she thought of herself as the players’ mother. Granted, some of them were childlike --- discourteous and surly, especially those who used steroids. She enjoyed being around most of them. However, she had to keep her managerial perspective. If she allowed them to get too close, she might not be able to make all the right personnel decisions. It would have been hard to cut or trade a friend.

There was one of the players she would have liked to have as a friend. Andy Blake was sweet. He had an inner softness you didn’t often see in men. He was always nice to young fans. Not just when the press was around, like some of the players. Andy was easy to relate to, while the other men seemed to want to engage her in debate. He didn’t act superior to her. When they talked, he would look her right in the eye, smiling and nodding his head to encourage more conversation.

Sue and her late husband had wanted children. They had only been married six months when the fishing accident occurred. Her husband had been raised in an orphanage and had never been fishing. Red had wanted to make his first fishing trip a “doozy.” Sue had not gone with them, staying home to oversee construction on the couple’s new home, which she eventually sold without ever occupying.

Even though she didn’t realize it, she lived in the same apartment complex as Andy. Their lives were similar. In addition to lacking families, they both came to work early and left late. At work they were separated at work by rows and rows of worrisome empty seats.

Sue ached to have someone to talk to --- really talk to. There was no one to share her problems. There was no one to tell her how wonderful she was.

As the banker droned on about financial goals and revenue thresholds, his PowerPoint presentation projected graph after graph on a small screen in the corner of her office. The bank used Twins’ colors in their graphics and their text. Colors that Sue knew her father had originally selected.

***

Twins’ Dressing Room
The Metrodome
Sunday, July 19, 1987

“My knee has to be taped.”

The trainer, Curly Schiltz, stared in astonishment at Andy. In all the years Andy had been with the Twins, he had never been taped. Andy felt he needed full mobility to make the defensive plays that had kept him on the team. He was certain he couldn’t properly turn the double play at second if he were heavily encumbered.

A twinge Andy had felt left him no choice. He had to be ready for even the remotest possibility of playing. Andy wasn’t in the starting line-up and more than likely wouldn’t play. Everyone was well rested coming off the All-Star break and you didn’t use a buck-ninety batter to pinch hit.

He had been blessed with a strong body, even though he had never had the growth spurt that his father had predicted. Andy was 5’6” and 135 lbs (about 45 lbs. lighter than the average major league player). Andy thought he was lucky in that he hadn’t broken any limbs, given his small bones. He didn’t have an ounce of fat on his body, and far less than average muscle. His lack of muscle seemed to have kept him from having the nagging strains and pulls his teammates often were plagued with. His lithe body allowed him to make the acrobatic throws from second base, avoiding take-out slides on double plays.

He had seen teammates give in to the advantages of growth through the use of anabolic steroids. Andy was baseball crazy, but not crazy enough to knowingly harm his body. He envied anyone who could legitimately hit the ball over 350 feet. Hitting it out of the park with the help of steroids was not legitimate, in his opinion.

“Shave it.” Curly didn’t waste words.

Andy found his shaving kit in his locker. Andy rarely shaved --- almost never at the Dome. He wasn’t one of those players who wouldn’t shave if they were having trouble hitting or pitching. He just didn’t have to shave that often. He had a wispy mustache he had grown since he was twenty. It never had filled in properly, but he couldn’t bring himself to get rid of it. He could go weeks without shaving with no one noticing.

Not being overly conscious of his appearance, he went months between haircuts. He had about six inches of extra hair sticking out from under his batting helmet. He didn’t mind as haircuts took time and got in the way of playing ball.

There was no question Andy would shave his leg, even though it was the first time for him. Andy would be ready to play. They might need to make a defensive switch in a late inning, sending him in for a power-hitting outfielder who had pinch hit for an infielder.

Andy lathered his entire leg. He didn’t realize he only had to shave several inches on either side of his knee - the area to be taped. True to his nature, Andy did more than he had to by lathering from toe to waist and shaving his entire leg smooth as a batting helmet. Shaving his leg might become a daily routine for him now that he was getting older and would probably have more muscular problems. Shaving wasn’t all that unpleasant. It was Zen-like -- mesmerizing and calming.

As Andy walked from the shower where he had shaved, several of his teammates whistled and commented on his shapely “gam.” They were more than happy to rib him about how he had gone overboard in preparing for his taping. Andy grinned and shrugged off the good-natured banter. Curly taped his knee while Steve Nelson sat next to Andy wryly comparing his wife’s legs to Andy’s.

As the Twins took the field, the last of three thousand paying customers settled into their seats. Throughout the stadium everyone could hear Wally the Beerman, “Hey, beer here. Beer here.” The paid attendance was announced at 5,739. There were a lot of “no shows.”

The fans did their best to cheer on the Twins. Cleveland had beaten them 8-1 and 6-2 the prior two games. No one expected much, but somehow the Twins’ pitching had kept them in the game. When the Twins came to bat in the bottom of the ninth, they were only down 1-0. The team and some of the fans turned their caps inside out hoping for a late game rally. They were disappointed when the first Twins’ batter slapped a low fastball back to the shortstop. One away.

The umpire apparently took pity on the faithful and added some life to the game by issuing a walk. Three of what he called balls seemed to have caught the edge of the plate. The next batter slammed a ball off the baggy in right field for a double putting a man on third and one on second.

For the first time in what seemed like weeks, things looked positive. The Indians pulled their starter, who was still working on a four-hit shutout, to bring in their closer. The Twins hadn’t scored off the Indian’s closer all year. No team had solved his knuckleball. He was carrying a gaudy 1.75 ERA.

The Twins took advantage of the time used to change pitchers to arrange all the bats in the dugout so they weren’t crossed. The players sitting on the bench made sure everyone’s legs were either crossed or uncrossed at the same time. The entire team was holding their caps upside down by the bills; shaking them in a circular motion. If there was any luck to be had, they wanted it on their side.

The next Twins’ batter came to the plate encouraged by the feeble roar of the meager crowd. He connected with a pitch that sailed 340 feet down the right field line slicing foul by under five feet. Unfortunately, the 3-2 pitch he didn’t find to his liking was called a strike by the same ump who had been so beneficial only moments before; bad luck was still haunting them.

The Twins were down to one out. If the runner on third didn’t advance the ninety feet to home plate, they would be at least eleven games out of first, swept by the Indians, and continuing down the road to oblivion.

The Twins had their one All-Star, a centerfielder, at the plate. He was hitting .335, but only .225 with runners in scoring position. The Skipper thought about bringing in a pinch hitter. He looked down his bench at what he quickly determined were poor alternatives. Feeling a need to do something, he moved to his lucky spot in the dugout.

The knuckleballer had the count at one ball and two strikes, when the batter hit a towering popup to the leftfielder. The runners were off with the pitch and would easily score before the ball came down. It was the hapless Twins’ misfortune their runs would not count, once the ball was caught.

The left fielder was parked under the ball pounding his glove, when things got interesting. He had lost the ball in the Teflon coated fiberglass, which served as the roof of the Dome. There were ten acres of roof over the Dome making it a field of white. When he finally found the ball, it was too late. He lunged as it hit the Astroturf, but the batter was already safely on base and the ballgame was over with the Twins winning 2-1.

It wasn’t their first win of the year, but you would have thought so judging by their euphoria. Even though they were professionals playing a season that lasted nearly seven months, this game meant a great deal to them.

The Skipper sensed an opportunity to break out of the malaise that had kept his team from achieving. He bolted the door to the locker room and held at bay the three local reporters who were covering the game. “Boys, that’s the way to play baseball. We stuck in the game until luck finally came to play on our side.” The locker rocked with jubilation.

The Skipper wasn’t a psychologist, but he did know what went on between ballplayers’ ears. “Whatever we did different today, let’s do it again tomorrow. The Yankees are coming to town and I would sure like to give them something to think about.”

The players sat on metal folding chairs around the Skipper. They were in various stages of undress. Including the two hours of preparation time, they had been on the field for over five hours. Their bodies craved warm water and soap. What had been different? They had worn the same home uniforms as the past two days. Their pre-game meal had been the customary cold cuts and fried chicken they always had.

“It’s Andy’s leg.” Curly said. “Andy’s never shaved his leg before. That’s what jinxed the other team.”

The team was eager to find the reason for the win, so they could do it again. Andy was more than willing to be considered part of the victory, even though he hadn’t played. He didn’t question Curly’s analysis.

The Skipper knew he could count on Andy to do what he could to inspire the team. “We’ll test it tomorrow. Tomorrow you shave the other leg and we’ll see what happens.” Andy considered the Skipper to be a close friend. The Field Manager (Coach) for the Twins was Roger Ertelt. Everyone invariably called him “Skip”, “Skipper”, or “The Skipper.”

“Okay, Skip.” Shaving the other leg meant nothing to Andy beyond a small inconvenience. It wasn’t going to hinder his ability to play, so who cared?

For the good of the team, he would come in early and shave his other leg.

***

Executive Suite
The Metrodome
Sunday July 19, 1987

Up in the executive suite, Sue paced. Her team had finally won a close one. Could they win two in a row? A winning streak could be started so easily. This team had potential. Did she dare to hope?

Her father had jumped six of the current players from ‘AA’ to the majors four years ago, without the normal stop at “AAA.” He had even brought Roger Ertelt up with them from the “AA” team. They were Toledo Mudhens one day; and then, Minnesota Twins the next. One of the local sportswriters, Sol Lunggal, said they played like a bunch of mud hens the first two years. The local press had been mostly kind to Red. They understood what had been trying to accomplish. His strategy of building from within was one way for a small market team to compete.

They were good players. The experience in the big leagues had helped them. However, they lacked the confidence to win consistently. She couldn’t afford to go into the free agent market to buy a veteran to help them.

The Twins had been projected to do better the previous year. Injuries had been frequent and serious. The scheduling had been atrocious. But no one had expected them to finish in last place in their division. Sue had thought this year would be different. So far, things hadn’t happened, as they should have.

You really couldn’t blame the fans for their edginess. The franchise hadn’t won a pennant in seventeen years. The town would respond to a winner, if she could figure out how to field a winner, without spending money she didn’t have. They had drawn over three million fans several years in the sixties. They were on a pace to draw 1.4 million. Maybe it was her fate to be forced to sell the team?

Her half-finished meal suggested more about a lack of answers than it did distaste for ballpark food. She much preferred a hot dog to spending an evening alone in a fancy restaurant. Cooking at home for one was too depressing to think about. She kept several changes of clothes in her office, as she often slept on her couch after working late into the evening. Some people loved the Dome. Others hated it, wishing for a return to outdoor baseball. Sue thought of it as home.

According to the marketing staff, the Twins lacked personality. There was nothing special about them in the eyes of the fans. They didn’t have pizzazz. They were average players who played a decent brand of ball - not a jerk in the bunch. Her dad often said, “People will come if you put a winner on the field.” The payrolls other clubs paid to field a winner were huge. A franchise couldn’t generate the revenue needed strictly through gate receipts. The other revenue (TV, radio, parking, concession, suites, and souvenirs) in a small market just doesn’t compare to what you can get in L.A. or New York. However, if you didn’t put a winner on the field, people didn’t come. A losing team in a small market didn’t have the gate receipts needed to meet even a relatively pint-sized budget.

It was a vicious cycle.

***

Metrodome
Tuesday, July 21, 1987

The electronic sign outside the Dome blinked YANKEES TODAY. It was the most compelling billboard in all of baseball. Nothing spun the turnstiles faster than a game with the pinstripes. You would think Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, and Mickey Mantle were suiting up.

The Twins were averaging about 20,000 fans a game. Monday night was the worst drawing night of the week, but they expected a Yankee inspired crowd of 35,000. The Yankees were leading the Eastern Division by four games and were the favorites to take the pennant and the World Series.

Andy arrived at the park fifteen minutes before his normal time. Before any of his teammates were in the dressing room, he had his other leg completely shaved. His teammates appreciated what he had done. It was only through great restraint on their part that they kept the wisecracks to a bare minimum. Andy had shapely legs that begged whistles. If you looked at them and didn’t look what they were attached to, you could have been misled.

The Twins were especially careful before the game to assure nothing jinxed them. Their starting pitcher didn’t shave his face. Absolutely no one stepped on the baselines. Many players wore a red tie on their way to the stadium.

The Twins combined timely hitting with four double plays to win 5-2. The crowd was loud and encouraging from the start. Everyone went home satisfied the Twins were the equal of any team in baseball.

After the game, the Skipper thanked Andy for what he had done. The Twins were convinced they had luck in their camp.

***

Metrodome
Tuesday, July 21, 1987

The morning paper contained a column by Sol Lunggal. He cautioned the Minnesota fans to “wait and see.” George Steinbrenner’s boys weren’t going to lie down. They had their ace on the mound and things were going to be a lot tougher. Sol and George were close, personal friends.

Prior to the game, Steve dragged Andy off into a corner where nobody else could hear. “Andy, you’ve got to help me.”

“What’s the problem? You need a loan or something?”

“Nah, I’ve got more money than brains, but I really do need your help.”

Steve had come up through the minors with Andy. He was in a terrible slump. He was supposed to bat in the four spot; which was usually the clean-up position, and was reserved for a .270+ power hitter. Steve’s average was .235 and he had hit only two homeruns all year.

“Skip’s moving me to seventh. If I don’t start hitting he’s going to send me down.” A trip to the minors when you’re in your late twenties can be one-way. Every ballplayer in the world can tell you the story of Wally Pipp. Wally had a headache one day and was replaced by Lou Gehrig. Lou relinquished his “temporary” starting assignment after 2,130 consecutive games. Wally was quoted years later as saying, “I took the two most expensive aspirins in history.” When Gehrig finally announced his retirement because of what was later termed Lou Gehrig’s disease, he said, “I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

“It’s really bad this time,” Steve said. “I’ve been sleeping with my bats for about a month and still can’t break out of this thing.”

“That’s rough. What do you want me to do?” Andy really wanted to help.

“Here’s how I’ve got this thing figured.” Steve lowered his voice to a whisper, so that only Andy could hear. “I don’t want you to get mad. You’ve got to promise me you’ll remember how long we’ve been teammates.” Steve’s face was turning scarlet. What he had to say wasn’t going to be easy. “Andy, you’ve got some good-looking legs.”

“COME ON, STEVE.” Andy looked around the locker room to see who else was in on the joke. A few people were looking at him to see why he had hollered, but no one was laughing. He looked back at Steve and saw only deep concern in his friend’s eyes.

“Andy, I need you to do this. I’ll pay you.”

“I don’t need money. What is it you want?” They both were whispering again.

“Well ... here’s the deal,” Steve said. “When you shaved your leg the first day you looked a little feminine.”

“Golly ... so I’m not as big as the rest of you. I’m no homosexual. You know that.” Homosexuals were fairly common in pro sports, about as common as in every other facet of life. There were three who everyone suspected on the Twins. Most of the guys were tolerant. Only a few of the rednecks would make an occasional raw comment. Andy wasn’t put off by a different lifestyle. Sex with either gender wasn’t on his radar-screen.

“That’s not what I’m getting at,” Steve said. “I don’t think you’re a fairy. No one does. What I’m saying is a fact. Your shaved leg looks like a woman’s. When you shaved your other leg, you became more feminine. Actually, quite a bit more.”

“Telling me I look like a sissy won’t help you convince me to do a favor for you.”

“Andy, I’m only telling you what everyone is saying.”

“Okay. Let’s agree for the sake of moving this discussion along that my legs aren’t quite as manly as they were before I shaved them; so what?”

“Here’s the deal, Andy. I figure in order for the team to be lucky; you have to get a little more feminine each day.” Steve was carrying a bat. He gripped the handle with force as if he were trying to choke it.

“That’s a crock,” Andy said. “I admit we’ve won two games we didn’t really count on winning. But, that’s happened before, plenty of times.”

“I know my theory hasn’t been tested, but I don’t have time to run experiments. I need you to do something for me today. We’ll just keep it between you and me. I need to get my swing back or I’ll be gone.” Players suffered with the tenuous reality of their position on the team. Andy knew Steve could well be moved to Triple-A; putting his big league career in jeopardy.

“You still haven’t told me what you want me to do.” Andy said.

“It’s not easy for me to say. -- It sounds so damned silly. --But you have to do it, for my sake.”

“Let’s have it. You’re not the only one having hitting problems. I need to get extra b.p.” Players in slumps often tried to work their way out of them by spending more time in the batting practice cage.

Steve was beet-red. Whatever it was he wanted Andy to do was a tall order. He dropped his voice so that even Andy could barely hear him. “Just before the game starts, after the National Anthem, I want you to duck back in the locker room and spray on a little of this cologne.” He showed Andy a small bottle of perfume he had pulled from his pocket.

“What?”

“I don’t know what else ... . I just know we need ... . I need all the luck you can bring me. Our luck comes from you becoming more feminine each day. I’ve thought and thought and this is all I could think of. Will you do it? You’ve got to!”

No ballplayer would ever take another player’s superstition lightly. Andy knew Steve was dead serious, but he had to ask again to make sure. “Do you really think this will help us win?”

“I’m almost certain.”

“Okay Steve, I’ll give it a try. I’m only going to put on a little, so people don’t notice.”

“That’s okay. Just a little bit should work. Geez! Thanks, Andy. This is great. How much money do you want for this?”

“There’s not enough money in the world, but if it’s going to help the team, or a teammate, I’m all in favor.”

Steve gave Andy a small curved bottle. On its gold label, the words L’Air du Temps were written.

Later, as the team took the field against the Yankees, Andy rushed back to their locker room. He had placed the bottle in his shaving kit. Andy assumed you splashed on the cologne like aftershave. When he took off the cap, he discovered it was a spray bottle. He pulled up his jersey and gave himself a couple of squirts in each armpit. He caught a few strange looks in the dugout from the other Twins, but as the game went on, everyone’s attention was directed to the field.

The bottom of the ninth inning rolled around with the score tied, 4-4. Nelson had broken out of his slump. He was three for three with a walk. Two of his hits were doubles. His single had set off a three-run inning. He came up in the ninth with one away and hit a 2-0 fastball into the left field stands for a walk-off homerun.

As the team met at the mound for the traditional high fives, Steve hugged Andy. “You smell like a French whore, but it was worth it. I don’t know what I can ever do to repay you.”

“Don’t worry. Your homerun was all the thanks I needed.”

The two smiled at each other like the longtime friends they were and joined in the revelry. Two in a row from the Yankees ... incredible! Andy spent a long time scrubbing, but for some reason, he seemed to smell even more feminine after he took his shower.

The next day was the third and final game with the Yankees. The Twins top pitcher was dueling the Yankee’s ace and the Dome was alive with an air of optimism. By the end of the fourth inning the game was already out of hand. Unfortunately, it was the Bronx Bombers who were on top 8-1. They coasted to a 12-4 victory.

Once again, the Skipper called a team meeting. “So, what happened?” For several moments silence filled the room.

“Doggone it Andy, I’ve got to tell them,” Steve hoarsely whispered top Andy.

“I suppose you do,” Andy said. “Go ahead.”

“You know how Andy smelled yesterday?” Steve asked. Everyone nodded.

“And, you know he still smells a little girlish today. Doesn’t he?” Again the nods, as Andy reddened. He hadn’t been aware of the lingering fragrance. “Well this loss proves it... unless Andy becomes more womanish each day we will no longer have luck on our side.”

There followed a general discussion of other possible superstitions, which might have come into play. But, when all was said, everyone (including Andy) was in agreement that Steve had a point.

“So, what are you going to do?” The Skipper was staring directly at Andy. Andy shrugged. He was programmed to follow the coach’s guidance.

Nothing in the Skipper’s years of experience covered this kind of circumstances. He spoke his thoughts. “There are certain things a man does and certain things a man doesn’t do. Would you all agree?” No one could disagree with that. “I mean, there are players on this team who have sacrificed quite a bit for the team to help us win. Wouldn’t you all agree?” Again, it was hard to challenge something as true as that. “We know this much. Andy shaved his leg when he had never shaved before and we won. Andy shaved the other leg and we won again. Then he didn’t do anything different and we were losers; and then -- Steve talked him into using perfume and we won again. It looks pretty clear.”

The coach could see a plan of action. If the players thought they should win, they probably would win. He saw an opportunity that might be just the thing to give them confidence. Good things could happen.

“I’m not naming names or pointing any fingers. I think we all know what happens to a guy’s performance in bed when he takes a little something to help his play on the field.” The room went dead quiet on that one. No one bobbed his head and no one shouted, “You got that right coach... my Willy ain’t been up for quite some time.” But, if you looked deep into the yellowed eyes of those who had bulked up with steroids, you could see they agreed wholeheartedly with the coach.

Having made the point that nothing was sacred when it came to sacrificing for the team to win, he continued. “As always, what’s said in this room stays in this room. I don’t want anyone outside our team to know what Andy has done and what he might have to do in the future.” The room rang out with agreement, now that the coach wasn’t asking anyone to reveal their impotence. “Whatever we ask Andy to do has to be something that won’t be too embarrassing.” Andy led the affirmative understanding on that one.

“It’s clear Andy needs to prove or disprove Steve’s theory. The stakes are too high to ignore the signs. Andy, can you become more feminine each day for a while without doing something that’s totally too, ah, too much?”

This wasn’t really Andy’s area. He was willing to comply but lacked inspiration. Once the coach opened it up for general discussion, ideas poured forth.

“How about if Andy puts on some ladies’ underwear. It will be under his uniform and nobody but us would ever know.” You might expect there would be some giggling or horsing around, but that wasn’t the case. The team was trying to win games and they were dead serious.

“He might use a little make-up, something that doesn’t show.”

“The main thing is he’s gots ta keep shaving them legs and using that perfume... he can’t go backward -- only forward.”

“What if he ... only when he’s out of sight of the public of course ... but what if he walks a little different.”

“Yeah and he could talk different, too ... when it’s just us guys.”

“The mustache has to go.”

“He could paint his toenails. Nobody’s ever going to see his feet outside our locker room.”

“He could shave his arms and the rest of his body.”

Andy was taking it like a man. He had a job to do. His coach expected it. His teammates were doing what they could to help him. There was no real choice.

As long as it didn’t have any serious negative impact on his ability to play the game, what did he care? Luckily, the Twins had an extended home stand. On his way home, Andy went to the convenience store down the street from his apartment. He didn’t notice the woman who was intently watching him buy some peculiar items -- for a man.

The next day, Boston came to town. Before the game, Andy shaved his legs. He sprayed a small amount of the cologne in the air and walked into the mist figuring that a small amount would count, but also would wear off quickly. Then he painted his toenails with the pink enamel he had bought the night before. They won, of course.

On the following day he added shaving his underarms and they won again. Before the game on Saturday, he also shaved his arms, chest, and back, leaving only his pubic hairs. Once again, the team posted another win for the Twins. Sunday they had a double-header. Before the first game he shaved all over, spritzed with perfume, freshened his toenail polish, and put on clear lipstick. Twin victories resulted for the Twinkies. Coming into the last game of the home stand, the Twins had won nine in a row, and Andy was completing a daily “beauty” treatment.

He talked in a voice that could land him a job with a 1-900 phone sex company. He walked around the locker room with a sway to his hips; he was taking tiny steps, with in-line strides. He shaved everywhere - everyday. His face was smooth and cleared of all hair. He used the clear lipstick and smeared on foundation. Several of his teammates stole undergarments from their wives. Under his uniform he wore a size nine pair of panties that hung on him like a potato sack, a 38C bra, and a pair of queen-size pantyhose.

The changes were taking their toll on Andy. Although he wouldn’t gripe to his teammates, he wasn’t feeling his best. He had lost both his appetite and in the process dropped weight from his already slight frame. Andy was having trouble sleeping. He was agitated by conflicting thoughts. There was no doubt he was helping his team win, but shouldn’t he have been more embarrassed? His teammates were so supportive he found the whole situation to be ... enjoyable. That shouldn’t have been.

***

Executive Suite
Metrodome
Sunday August 2, 1987

The banker was back to deliver to Sue an ultimatum. “My board is a group of reasonable men. We all love the Twins and want to see the organization flourish. It appears you might not be the one to make that happen. They’ve directed me to tell you that this team has to show a profit this year or we’ll be forced to call our note. You’ll be receiving a registered letter tomorrow to that effect.”

Sue’s attorneys had warned her an aggressive move was a possibility. She was aware no other creditor would take Norwest’s place.

After she showed the banker to the door, Sue picked up a picture from her credenza. It was of Red and her when she had been eight years old. They were at the ballpark. Both of them had scorecards in their hands. Sue couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t keep a scorecard. She looked at the back of the picture for the date and went to her files. There it was --her scorecard from that day. The Twins had won and the attendance had been 43,032.

Sue closed the blinds on the windows to the stadium. The tears came easily as she realized losing the Twins meant losing the last of her family.

She needed a miracle.

***

Twins Dugout
Metrodome
Monday August 2, 1987

“I can’t do it. I’ve tried. I can’t play my position with all this girly stuff on under my uniform. I can’t make the pivot. I can’t throw. It just won’t work.” The second baseman, Pedro Cardenas had the flu and Andy had to fill in. The bra he had to wear was going to impede his play. He couldn’t allow that. In ten minutes the ump would yell, “Play ball!” The Skipper needed to make a choice.

“You’re right Andy,” the coach said. “Maybe we’ve carried this too far ... this voodoo junk. You’ve done enough. Go get out of that stuff and take the field.” Andy sprinted to the locker room.

Three hours later, the Twins packed their bags for a road trip having lost 5-1. There was no denying it now. Andy was their talisman. It was up to Andy to do the right thing. Andy took more make-up on the trip. The coach said he wouldn’t be called on to play. By the time the Twins came home he had added blush, eye shadow, powder, eyeliner, mascara, clear nail polish, and a camisole. His newly pierced ears were adorned with gold studs.

***

Executive Suite
Metrodome
Tuesday August 25, 1987

“Congratulations Skipper.” It wasn’t often Sue asked the coach up to her office. The team had made up the ground on Cleveland. They were now in first place and on a pace to win 95 games. The fans were buying tickets in bunches for the remainder of the season. The ticket office predicted an average of over 40,000 fans a game for the next seven home games. IF ... the Twins kept winning, they could close out the year with a profit.

There was a problem. Sue had asked the Skipper to come to her office for a 10:00 A.M. meeting. The game would start nine hours later at 7:05. “Skip, you know I don’t like to meddle.” Sue said, once he had joined her.

“And, you know I greatly appreciate that.” The coach was already dressed in his game uniform. Baseball is one of the only sports where the coach normally wears a uniform like the players.

“Skip I’m starting to get calls. The TV cameras were spending a lot of time Sunday afternoon focused on Blake in the dugout. Today, I got a note from Sol Lunggal. He attached a picture of Blake from last week. He wants to know if we’re considering psychiatric help.”

“He what?”

“He said he’s noticed quite a change in Blake since the All-Star break. He thinks Andy is acting very strange.”

“Strange?” The coach didn’t want to discuss what was happening with Andy. He was unclear if the sanctity of the locker room extended to the team owner.

“Skipper, we’ve known each other a long time. I don’t want to pull rank. However, if you don’t tell me what the deal is with Blake, I’m going to have the GM trade him.”

“You can’t do that. If you trade Blake, we’ll lose half of the rest of our games --or more.”

“You haven’t played him for weeks. Why on earth would trading him hurt our chances of winning?”

“You know how these guys are. My outfielders won’t take the field without touching second base, every batter has a ritual they go through before they step in the box, and one of my pitchers eats chicken and nothing else before every game.”

“I’m aware superstitions are a big part of baseball. What does that have to do with Andy?”

“It goes way beyond simple superstition. Eight guys on our active roster are from either the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. They practice voodoo and do all sorts of things with red peppers, chicken bones, horseshoes, human hair, and snakeskin. It’s wild. The Latinos believe Andy’s got powerful hoodoo and the other players are just as convinced.”

“Tell me the specifics about Andy.”

The coach sat down and collected himself before he started. His job was to win games. He had one of less than three-dozen jobs available coaching a major league baseball team. He was fairly certain he had done the right thing, but -- if Sue fired him, it would be years before the stigma would wear off and he could get another head coaching position. He proceeded with caution. “It all started several weeks ago when the players got it in their heads that they could win if Andy became increasingly more feminine each day.”

“That’s crazy.” Sue had heard many goofy ideas from ballplayers, but what the coach was relating was over the edge.

“Crazy or not, that’s what the team thinks and that’s what has this ball club turned around.”

Sue got up from her desk and walked to the wall with the pictures of past teams. She looked at the pictures from the last several years. Why did it have to be Andy in the middle of this mess? If there was one player she admired and respected it was Andy. “What exactly has Andy had to do?”

“It started with him shaving his leg for taping.”

“That isn’t really overtly feminine. Lot’s of guys shave to avoid the pain of ripping tape off their hairy legs.”

“Right. But not a lot of ballplayers wear perfume.”

“Perfume? Why on earth would Andy wear perfume? No wonder Sol thinks he needs help.” Sue returned to her desk and picked up the picture Sol Lunggal had sent to her. It was clear now why Andy looked so weird in the picture and why Sol had expressed his concern.

“Nah. He’s okay,” the Skipper said. “If I had to choose between Sol and Andy for the loony bin, Sol would win the booby prize hands down. Andy started wearing perfume to help Steve break out of his slump. He’s Steve’s hero because he’s wearing that perfume.”

“Steve hit .368 for the month of August. I would say it worked.” Sue was beginning to understand what was going on. “What else is he doing?”

The coach was always impressed with Sue’s baseball savvy. She knew as much about the game as any other owner in the league. However, he still wasn’t sure how much blame or credit he wanted for what Andy was doing. “Some of the guys brought in women’s underwear for him to put on ... and he’s been using lipstick and other stuff on his face.”

“I thought he was, from what I can see in this picture.”

“We owe a lot to Andy. No one but Andy could do this for us.”

“Why do you say that, Skipper?” Sue asked. “Say ... did you encourage Andy to do this?”

“Okay, yes. Yes, I did,” the coach said. “I could see what the players thought and I didn’t think it would hurt Andy. Everyone likes him ... hell they all love him. If they didn’t, this would have killed him by now. Instead of giving him craaa -- er - a --- guff, they’re all helping him get more female.”

“Coach, I think you’ve acted as you should have. You took advantage of the occasion to help the club, but what else have the players had Andy do to ‘get more female’?”

“They got together, Andy and the guys, and they decided the best way to help Andy was to treat him like a woman?”

“How are they doing that?”

“Some of the guys are holding doors for him. Other times they carry his bags when we’re on trips. They even help him with how to hold his hands and such.”

“Hands and such?”

“They tell him when he isn’t holding his arms right, when his walk is wrong, if he uses words that girls don’t use --- things like that.”

“How often do they correct him?” Sue sat down again. The enormity and complexity of the situation was hitting home. This wasn’t as simple as Andy wearing a costume.

“All the time. When we’re on the road they’re at him twenty-four hours a day. Steve got Andy a pair of high heels to wear in the clubhouse. He’s been in those things five or six hours a day.”

“Why on earth would Andy allow all this to happen?” Sue was beginning to think the club might have some responsibility to Andy to help him put all this behind him. Hopefully there hadn’t already been psychological damage.

“He’s helping us win. Andy and the boys think it’s easier for everyone if he stays in the role as much as possible.”

“But haven’t you lost a few games?” Maybe there was a way to convince the players they were winning on skill; and not on the luck Andy supposedly was bringing the team.

“Sure -- and that makes it tougher on Andy. Every time we lose, he figures he didn’t put out enough effort to become more like a girl between that game and the previous game. He apologizes to the team after every loss, gets more determined, and then he tries harder.”

“And how has Andy reacted personally to all this?” Sue was prepared to hear the worst.

“I think he’s doing okay ... it just seems the more they treat him like a girl, the more he seems to be a girl. It’s feeding on itself.”

“There isn’t anything funny going on -- I mean sexually deviant. Is there?” Sue was fairly certain Andy was heterosexual, but had been fooled before by other ballplayers.

“No.” The coach seemed offended by the suggestion. “Not even George is hitting on him.” The way the Skipper said “George” indicated that the Skipper and Sue had talked of George on other occasions.

“Is Andy having any emotional problems?” Sue asked.

“No. Andy is still Andy. He’s different, but the likable parts of him are still there. Andy’s twenty years younger than me. He’s like a son. The only thing is --- he wants to play baseball. He knows he can’t play his best with the undergarments restricting his play, so I haven’t tried to put him on the field. He would like to be helping us with his glove and bat --- to be part of the winning effort by playing, as well as by being our lucky charm. If he wasn’t missing a chance to play, I think he would actually be enjoying this whole thing.”

“How much do you think you would have used Andy in the line-up the rest of the season?”

“To be honest, I was thinking about releasing him and bringing up Sanchez from Toledo.”

“I knew it was getting to be about that time. It won’t be the same without him here. Skip, are you sure he’s enjoying doing this for the club?” She had felt relieved hearing that, but wondered how on earth Andy could enjoy what he was doing.

“You know Andy. He’s smiling, congratulating the guys, talking a mile a minute, hands flying all over the place. He’s one in a million. I’ve noticed him putting on his make-up and things. You can tell by his body language that it isn’t killing him to do it. Yep, I’m sure this whole thing would be a laugh, if he got a chance to play once in a while.”

“Do you think his ability to bring good fortune will run out? Could we actually go the distance this year?” Sue hated herself for thinking about the team’s economic condition, but she had to ask the question.

“It really doesn’t matter. We’re fresh out of ideas to make Andy more feminine. We’ve run this win streak out about as far as it can go. Even if you don’t trade him or we release him, we’re jinxed.”

“I wouldn’t dream of trading or releasing him, after all he’s done for the team. I can handle the press. And, I can help you with new ideas how to keep this going. Do me a favor. Twenty minutes before the game tonight, send him up.” There was a small elevator running from the locker room to the executive suite. Back in Red’s day, he would use it to go down to encourage the boys once or twice a week. Sue rightly suspected a female owner wouldn’t be as welcome as a man while the men were taking their showers. “Make sure he does everything he did before the last game, with the lingerie, make-up, and cologne. One more thing Skip.” Sue had things to do and wanted to end the meeting. “If all this strangeness hadn’t happened would’ve you wanted us to renew Andy’s contract at the end of this season?”

“Not a chance. He’s been a great player, but we can no longer afford to have him in the line up. We need a utility infielder who can hit an occasional triple or home run. Not to be too ironic, but he’s a Punch and Judy hitter.”

After the Skipper left, Sue fumed about Andy’s well-being. It was clear that Andy was making a huge sacrifice for the team. Sue’s heart went out to him wondering what damage the feminization was doing to him as a person.

Oddly, his cross-dressing excited her. From her file drawer full of scorecards, Sue pulled the one from the first game she had seen Andy play in the Appalachian League. On the back of the card she had written, Andy Blake - CUTE - if this guy is half as nice as he seems he will make someone a great husband. Had she been prescient? Was he a suitable mate? The time had come to find someone to share her life. He was kind, considerate, and sexy. Sue squirmed in her chair with feelings she had thought had been extinguished.

Sue’s desire for children had been stuck deep in an alcove of her mind after the tragedy that ended her marriage. She made an immediate decision. Andy was the ideal candidate for a spouse and father of her children. She had a few things to check. If all looked good, she would make her move that evening; fast action, just like her dad.

Fast action, based on years of observation and accurate records was the Robinson hallmark. If the team needed a left-handed long reliever, Sue had a file that would give her a dozen options. She could move on transactions while others were still compiling data. Sue punched the buttons on her desk phone.

“Center for Sexual Health, how can I direct your call?”

“Could I please speak to Dr. Jacobs? This is Sue Robinson.” Stan Jacobs had made quite a name for himself at the University of Minnesota in the field of Human Sexuality. They had served together on several boards and charity drives. On those rare occasions when Sue needed an escort for a social event she called Stan. Stan had tried unsuccessfully to move beyond friendship, but had reached the understanding that it wasn’t going to happen. They had an excellent platonic relationship.

“Hi, Sue, to what do I owe this unexpected pleasure? Is it already time to start work on the St. Paul Winter Carnival?”

“I’d like some information from you about a friend of mine. He seems to be having some problems that fall in your area of expertise. Can I buy you lunch?”

“I’d be happy to meet you for lunch at my club in fifteen minutes,” Stan said. “However, I’m bound by ethical restraints. I can’t provide diagnosis without careful observation of the patient.”

“I understand. I’m only looking for generalities.”

In less than half an hour Sue and Stan were eating their salads. Stan’s club offered the necessary privacy. Although Sue was slightly uncomfortable, the gravity of the situation forced her to hope for the best. If Andy wasn’t husband material, she would at least know more about his problems, so that she could talk him into accepting the team’s offer of therapeutic consultation. Sue showed Stan the picture of Andy that Sol Lunggal had sent. Andy’s make-up was unmistakable, as was the outline of his bra.

“This guy in this picture is Andy Blake,” Stan said. “I am a big fan. Since you’ve come to me and judging by this picture, I’ll assume you suspect Andy has a gender disorder. Sue, I can only continue this conversation on the condition that you’ll agree to have Andy visit with me as soon as possible.”

“Agreed, if he agrees.” The team owed Andy the help he needed. “As you can probably tell from the picture, recently Andy started to wear women’s clothing.”

“He’s about thirty years old isn’t he?” Stan asked.

“He’s twenty-nine.

“Is he married, or has he ever been married?”

“No.”

“How often does he wear women’s things?”

“Every day.”

“It appears from the picture that he doesn’t restrict his wearing of women’s clothing to his home.”

“I don’t know if he does it at home,” Sue said. “I’m only aware of what he does when he’s at the park. He’s been dressing in women’s things every day for several weeks. He started wearing them sort of by accident, for the good of the team, but he seems to actually enjoy it.”

“Is he feminine in other ways, other than the clothing and what appears in the picture to be make-up?”

“Yes. He has adopted female speech patterns. He also walks and postures like a woman.”

“As you might know, Sue, we are the national headquarters of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association. We work with hundreds of professionals in the fields of psychiatry, endocrinology, surgery, law, psychology, sociology, and counseling. We try to increase the self-understanding of those people suffering from a gender identity disorder. In some cases, we help them with treatment.”

“If Andy is found to have a gender disorder, is there a cure?” Sue asked.

“We normally don’t talk in terms of a cure. If Andy is a transvestite, we try to help him fit his desires into a positive and productive lifestyle. We might help him with counseling. It might be beneficial for him to find other people like himself to ease his guilt.”

“Guilt?” The idea that Andy might feel guilty hadn’t occurred to Sue. “Coach Ertelt says Andy is enjoying himself. He shouldn’t feel guilty at all, given what he’s done for the team and some of his teammates. The team thinks his feminine actions and clothing are responsible for our winning streak. Why would he feel guilty?”

“Most transvestites have conflicted attitudes toward their lifestyle. Andy might be saddled with the impression that he’s a bad person.”

“If he does feel guilty, how would you help him?”

“Common issues for cross-dressers are shame, secrecy, compulsivity, and fear of discovery. Does Andy have a significant other?”

“No,” Sue said. As her face colored, Stan couldn’t help but feel envious.

“Wives and significant others of transvestites might suffer from shock, confusion, self-blame, anger, betrayal, and fear of discovery. Fear of discovery is the biggest worry; that a relative, employer, or neighbor will find out about the cross-dressing, and then create a problem. Most of the spouses find it hard to understand their husbands’ compulsive behavior. They can’t accept that their husband can’t just quit. We try to educate and counsel both of them to achieve a common goal of peace and acceptance.”

“I guess easing the husband’s pain, without helping the wife, wouldn’t do much good.” Sue wondered what sort of problems she might have in a relationship with Andy. She began to wonder about her own mental health as Andy’s cross-dressing was not only acceptable to her, but also was sexually stimulating.

“With some male transvestites we recommend cross-dressing unobtrusively with women’s undergarments. We also might advise that they change their body through hair removal or by other minor cosmetic surgical procedures. We help them find relief through increased grooming, improved male wardrobe, or appropriate vocal expression skills. We try to get them into support groups and provide literature to help them understand that they’re not unique.”

“Unique?” Sue asked. “You don’t think Andy’s unique?”

“Not really. Studies suggest that over one percent of all males in the United States cross-dress frequently.”

“Why? Are they trying to attract other men for sex?”

“We really don’t know what the base cause is. Some think it’s chemical, others think it’s due to early childhood trauma, others think it’s simply a natural function or drive that occurs in certain men. It’s rare that a true transvestite is attracted to men. The rate of incidence of homosexuality in cross-dressers is actually lower than the rate amongst the general public. Most transvestites are seeking a gender role that fits for them.”

“So, do you think Andy is a transvestite?”

“Whoa. I’m just giving you broad-brush knowledge,” Stan said. “There are many other possibilities. For example, it’s possible Andy is a transsexual: a person who was born in one gender who firmly believes he’s really the other gender.”

“Do you think it’s likely Andy’s a transsexual?”

“The whole field of gender identity is quite complex. We have a fairly strict standard of care protocol that we follow, before we are ready to make a suggested determination. Patients must try a lifestyle for at least a year before we decide whether or not they are a true transsexual.”

“If Andy is a transsexual or a transvestite, is it possible that he didn’t act on his urges to cross-dress until he was in his late twenties?”

“The social taboo against cross-dressing is very strict. There are case studies of patients who had a general feeling of unrest for most of their lives and first identified it as gender disorder in their fifties. Once the urge to cross-dress had been triggered, compulsivity came into play. It rarely has gone away. We try to mitigate damage to the person’s interpersonal relationships through responsible behavior.”

“Say there was no obvious reason to prevent Andy from satisfying his desires. What would be the harm?”

“There’s nothing inherently harmful in cross-dressing. As such, we aren’t trying to eradicate cross-dressing behaviors. We want the patient to be able to satisfy his needs without destroying his life.”

“If Andy is a transsexual, will he have to have a sex-change operation?”

“While a sex change is possible, it’s miles down the road. He would have to experience a real life test living as a woman.”

“If he fails that test, would he prove he’s not a transsexual?” Sue asked.

“Not really. There’s really no way to ‘fail’ the test. It’s more probable that he might decide that his true gender doesn’t fit into his social, economic, or psychological support. If that’s the case, he might decide to forego further treatment.”

“I’m hearing you say that if his support system is strong enough, anything is possible?”

“Very much so.”

“That would seem to account for the rapid change he’s made over the past few weeks,” Sue said. “His teammates have been very supportive. Should he decide to go through with a sex change, what kind of treatment is involved?”

“The first step would be beard removal. Then he could opt for hormone therapy, if approved by a qualified practitioner.”

“Would he develop breasts?”

“That’s a primary goal for transsexuals and some transvestites. The use of hormones would also result in the emigration of fat deposits to more feminine parts of the body. His upper body strength will decrease. There would be softening of the skin, decrease in body hair, slowing of scalp hair loss, decreased fertility or testicular size, and sometimes, but not always, less firm erections.”

The discussion had become clinical for Stan and absolutely necessary for Sue, consequently neither was embarrassed.

“What if he starts these chemical treatments and decides it isn’t for him?” Sue asked.

“Most changes are reversible. Transformation might not be evident until after two years of continuous hormone treatment. He’s not going to change into Morgana overnight.” Dr. Jacobs’s reference was to the overly endowed “Morgana, the kissing bandit” who had made herself infamous by rushing onto professional baseball diamonds and kissing players.

“What about the actual sex change?”

“We don’t even consider further steps until the patient has had at least twelve months of hormone therapy and twelve months of real-life experience. If we deem the person ready, we would recommend breast surgery first. That would be followed by other plastic surgery, as needed, to affect a feminine presentation. The last step would be genital reconstruction. The standards of care are rapidly changing, but I’ve given you the quick and dirty.”

“This has been most helpful, Stan. Could I impose on you to send me a list of books and other material I could read?”

“I’d be glad to. I'll have some sent to you this afternoon by courier.”

“In your opinion, do transvestites or transsexuals make good husbands and fathers?” Sue’s hands were clinched on her lap. She leaned forward.

“I conduct weeklong seminars on that topic. I’ve served as a professional witness in dozens of custody battles. I’m a firm believer that gender dysphoria is a non-factor in determining the ability to be a good parent. As far as what it takes to be a good mate --- that’s entirely up to the two people involved. I’ve seen some wonderful marriages dissolve over this issue. I’ve also seen other marriages become much stronger, once the couples understand their individual needs more completely. With all the social and economic pressures in the world, it isn’t easy for any marriage nowadays. Does Andy show signs of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or any other psychological disorders?”

“No, I don’t believe so.”

“Then he would have a good chance of being a fine husband. The key is for the partners to have full communication. If both are open and honest about their feelings, most of the causes of the disorders we’ve discussed are non-issues.” Stan thought about telling Sue that from everything he knew about Andy, he could be a great husband for her, but that would have crossed the line. He was confident she already knew Andy was the guy for her from her body language and the smiles that had crossed her face at certain times during their conversation.

They chatted for a few minutes about friends and upcoming meetings. Just before they left the restaurant and went their separate ways, Stan suggested a colleague in his practice that could help her. Amazed by the information she received when she called him, Sue made a list of things she needed to do. She placed several phone calls, before leaving the Dome to buy a few necessary items.

She was ready to meet with Andy and look her future in the eye.

***

Executive Suite
Metrodome
Tuesday Evening August 25, 1987

“You wanted to see me, Mrs. Robinson?” Andy had been surprised when the Skipper asked him to go up to the executive office. In the five years he had been a Twin, he had never been there. Like every other ballplayer on the Twins, he thought Mrs. Robinson was a fox. She was like a younger version of her namesake, Anne Bancroft in “The Graduate.” Dark-haired and earthy, she exuded sex. Everyone respected her for her fairness. She was considered totally unattainable. She had spent a number of years in Eastern prep schools gaining the sophistication her father thought would help her in life. As the average ballplayer thought sophistication was spelled “soffistication”, they were in awe of her.

“Yes, Mr. Blake. I do need to talk to you.” Sue did not get up to welcome Andy. She wanted to set a tone for the meeting. She had to be in charge.

“I have to get back down to the field. The game’s about to start.” Andy motioned toward the door, indicating his desire to leave as quickly as possible. He stood ten to twelve feet away from Sue.

“This won’t take long.” Sue was startled by his heavy usage of make-up. It was no wonder Sol had sent his note. She could readily see his bra straps and unnatural panty lines. His perfume filled the office.

“Mr. Blake, I want the Twins to win as badly as you do.” From what Andy knew of her, there was no doubt she was telling the truth. “Your behavior lately has caused some concern. I had to threaten the Skipper with trading you to get him to tell me what’s been going on.” Andy turned a shade of red that Sue found very becoming. He shifted his eyes to stare at the floor to avoid confrontation. No ballplayer had taught him such an utterly feminine response. “May I call you Andy?”

“Sure, Mrs. Robinson.”

Sue didn’t offer him the reciprocal courtesy, something Andy didn’t expect or seek. “Andy, you’re doing a fine thing for the team. Becoming more and more like a lady everyday must be tough for you.”

“It’s becoming almost impossible. We’ve done about as much as we can.”

Sue marveled at what her players thought was the ultimate in feminine appearance. Although Andy had adopted a reasonably feminine demeanor, she would have no trouble raising the bar on his clothing. He was also in for a total makeover. “The Skipper said you would run up against a wall. I think you’ve done an exceptional job to this point. Come over here, Andy. I think we can do something simple for tonight’s game. After the game tonight, take your shower, and then come back to see me. Bring your undergarments and the cosmetics. We’ll see what we can do.”

“Bring my undergarments and cosmetics?” Andy wasn’t obtuse. He was looking for clarification so he would do things right.

“Yes, bring your bra and the other girly things you’re wearing. I need to see where to start. You need to consistently become more girlish for the Twins to win. I’m certain if I have your full cooperation we can make that happen.” When Andy blushed again, Sue was amazed at his natural beauty. He wasn’t as pretty as he could be, given his facial structure and skin quality, but -- as he stood before her, Andy was amazingly gorgeous – especially for a professional ballplayer. “I also want to assess what you’re using for cosmetics. If you’re still using the cosmetics you bought at the 7-Eleven, we need to upgrade the quality.”

How did she know where I got my lipstick? Andy thought. Andy had no idea she had been in that store the evening he had purchased his first make-up. He was caught off-guard and wondered what else she knew about him.

“Andy, I need to ask you some very personal questions and must have your honest answers.”

Andy didn’t know how much was riding on his ability to communicate openly with her. However, he had been taught it was disrespectful not to be honest at all times. Andy could not be disrespectful, no matter the consequences. “Absolutely, Mrs. Robinson. Whatever you want to know is fine with me.”

“Great! Okay. Now this is important. Please, take your time.” She paused. “How do you feel about the female clothing, the cosmetics, and adopting female mannerisms? I can’t help you, or the Twins, if I don’t know exactly how you feel.” Andy’s ability to read non-verbal communication told him she was truly trying to help. He felt almost ready to talk to her in earnest. “I assume you’re delighted by how the team’s doing.”

“Winning is great, but I wish I could play more. My time in professional ball is really almost over, and I wanted my last year to be quite special. It has been special, in a way. But I would’ve liked to go out on top, as a player.” The pain in Andy’s voice was the dismay athletes suffered when the time came to retire.

“I understand,” Sue said. “But what I want to know is, how is all this femininity sitting with you? Are you embarrassed by it? Can you stand it for the rest of the year?”

“Stand it?”

“Yes. Will you be able to dress and act like a woman for the rest of the season without too much emotional damage?”

“I want to be totally honest, even though my honesty might mean the end of my career. Mrs. Robinson, my teammates have been so supportive -- so wonderful. After the first few days, I realized there was absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. I’m not ashamed. I’ve done what I had to -- to help my team. Even if people outside of the clubhouse were to find out now, I would hold my head up high.

“You should be proud.” Sue wondered if he knew how girly he sounded using all those intensifiers, plus changing his pitch and inflection to express his thoughts. Cute, Sue thought.

“But that’s not the whole story.” Andy flexed his fingers and pulled at his pants leg. He gazed out at the playing field that had been his home for so long. Once he admitted his feelings to her, which he had to do, the only way he would get into the Dome would be to buy a ticket. “Mrs. Robinson, you have a right to be concerned. I’ve been losing a lot of sleep. I’ve lost over fifteen pounds.”

“I know. I’ve seen the manager’s reports.”

“I’m not ashamed that I’ve been acting like a woman. That’s not it at all.”

“What is it then, Andy?” She would help him, encourage him to talk, but not too much. Sue didn’t want to lead him. She wanted to know exactly how he felt.

“Mrs. Robinson, I think you’re a wonderful person. I won’t hate you, if you fire me after I tell you how I feel.”

“How do you feel?” Sue asked quietly. Her maternal instincts were urging her to console him in her arms. The greater need was for her to be certain of his honesty. Would he have the courage to tell her of his needs? If he did, they might be able to be together.

“For the first time in my life I feel happy,” Andy said. “I feel real joy in getting out of bed each day. I’ve found something that makes me content and I’ve been accepted by those around me.”

“You mean all the winning is making you happy.” She had to be certain, to be precise.

“No --- it’s not the winning.” Andy paused and collected himself. Behind the desk, Sue crossed her fingers for luck. “I like being a girl. I like the clothing, the make-up, and the perfume.” Andy had to get it out. He wasn’t trying to gauge her reaction to couch his words. He was speaking from his heart. “When this all started, I was confused. But as time went on, I looked forward to new ways of perfecting my feminine side. No. That’s not it. I don’t have a feminine side. Sometimes I think I’m all female. Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong body. Sometimes I don’t know what to think.” The words poured from him. “Sometimes the thought of wearing a complete set of women’s things sexually arouses me, other times when I try to imagine myself at some point in the future, after baseball is done, I see myself as an elderly lady. At one point this was tearing me up, and then I realized I had found a new and exciting way to experience life. Does any of this make sense to you?”

“Oh yes, Andy, perfect sense. I think you’re wonderful. I think we can find a way for you to be happy.”

“I’m so relieved you’re not laughing at me.” Andy’s shoulders had visibly relaxed.

“Laughing at you? I think the world of you. What you’ve said just now has convinced me you’re almost perfect. There’s the National Anthem.” She stood and waited until the song finished. “You’ve got to get down to the field. First, let’s make sure the Twins win tonight. Andy, if you not being feminine enough is the only thing preventing us from winning the pennant, I think this is going to be a great year for the Twins. For the rest of the season, you’re going to have my undivided attention. By the end of the season you’ll be spectacular. Let’s make you more feminine for tonight. We’ll get together right after the game and continue our talk.”

Sue grabbed a brush from her desk and went to work on his longish hair. She had a curling iron in her bathroom, which she used to turn under the ends. She also trimmed his bangs. “Your honey-blonde hair will look great with a highlight or two.”

As he was leaving the office, she prayed the game wouldn’t go into extra innings. She ached to be with him again as quickly as possible. She couldn’t wait to find out how he felt about her. Andy paused at the door and instinctively touched his hair, fluffing the ends. Sue smiled knowingly, as she again identified a behavior that was neither learned nor affected.

While Andy rode the elevator, he thought how lucky he was to be able to help the team. He had never thought seriously about a wife. Baseball had been his mate. He had considered girls to be a distraction from playing ball. But, with his playing days winding down maybe he could give some thought … . Maybe Mrs. Robinson? There had been some chemistry just then in her office. Maybe his run of luck wasn’t only for the benefit of the team?

During the game, Andy couldn’t concentrate. Baseball no longer could hold his interest. One inning he even forgot how many outs there were. Fortunately, he wasn’t playing. His responsibilities were to chart the opposing team’s pitching and bring good luck. He managed to complete both tasks.

Thirty minutes after the Twins won yet another close game, Andy was knocking on heaven’s door. If Mrs. Robinson was interested in him, he was going to give it a try. He had always thought she was something special. Why shouldn’t he have a normal life? Kids! Andy loved kids.

“Come in, Andy.”

“We won, Mrs. Robinson.”

“Thanks in no small part to you.”

“This is the most excited I’ve been in quite some time.” The bulge in his pants affirmed the truth in his statement. Sue was pleased he was thrilled to be with her.

“Andy, I want your full cooperation tonight. I don’t want to have to tell you twice to do something.”

“No, ma’am.” He was a little surprised by her tone. He knew she was still the boss.

“Good. Take off your clothes.” Sue wanted to get through the first part of the night without Andy feeling shame about his desire to be feminine. She wasn’t going to force him to do something he didn’t want to do. It was her intention to make things easier for him by making it seem he had little choice.

“Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?” Andy asked, a bit playfully and with some hope.

“Andy, that’s just the type of nonsense we don’t have time for --- we want to win and you need my help.” As stern as she was trying to be, she was smiling broadly as she spoke. The mixed signals were confusing to Andy.

Despite the smile on her face such a light reprimand was like a lash across Andy’s back. Andy felt foolish for blurting out such a thing. He had to watch what he said in the future. His face reddened as he hurriedly stripped to his underwear.

Sue looked him over from head to toe. One of the calls she had made that afternoon was to the personnel office to get his up-to-date measurements, which the team had verified along with shoe sizes, for a new uniform order. Sue had called the Oval Room at Dayton’s Department Store and ordered several items for immediate delivery to her office. Between what she had bought and the clothes she kept in the office for herself (most of which she now realized would fit him) she had everything she needed. Everything that is, if you added in the items she had purchased that afternoon four blocks from the dome in a specialty store.

“Show me what you’ve been wearing under your uniform, Andy.”

Andy pulled out a bag that contained his bra, camisole, panties, and pantyhose; old and discolored, they didn’t do Andy justice. She threw them in a wastebasket.

“I think we’ll start all over from the skin out. I see you’ve got a little rash on your arms and legs. The razor you’ve been shaving with is too rough for your sensitive skin. From now on you’re going to use a women’s razor and my special skin cream.”

Sue took a small bottle of Jaipur Saphir body lotion from her bathroom cabinet. She opened the lid and held the cream below his nose. “Isn’t that nice?” The fragrance was French, expensive, and intoxicating.

Andy’s penis was turgid. He was embarrassed to feel it throbbing. He didn’t look down, hoping Sue would somehow fail to notice his physical attraction for her. Sue hadn’t missed a thing. Andy’s hands were small and delicate for a man, to Sue’s delight his penis was not.

“Why don’t you try some?” She handed the bottle to Andy. He could’ve refused. She had correctly presumed he wouldn’t. Andy spread the lotion over his arms, legs, and torso. “Andy, you need more of a feminine shape. Lie down on the couch, please.” It might be best if you close your eyes for the next few minutes.” Andy did as she asked. “It’s a good thing that you’ve been shaving your body. You’re going to feel something cool on your chest. Don’t move. I’m going to place something on your chest and I need you to stay perfectly still so they don’t move for a minute of two.” Andy felt two soft objects placed gingerly on his chest and then pressed against him. He could feel Sue’s presence. Her face had to be just inches away from him. “What do the men call you?”

“Andy. Why do you ask?” He was surprised by the question.

“No. What do they call you when you’re being feminine?”

“I try to stay in character all the time. They call me Andy, like they always have.”

“If you don’t mind, I think they should start calling you Annie.”

“Annie?”

“Yes, it will be another step toward femininity that might win us a game or two.”

Andy smiled. “If it will help, I don’t mind. Annie – I like that name.”

“I just need to use some of this blending foundation around the edges and you’ll be done.” Sue said. The breast forms she had attached matched his skin tone. She was using a special liquid to hide the edges. “You’re ready. You can sit up and open your eyes.”

Annie gasped after she looked down at her chest. The past few weeks had been hard to comprehend, but the sight of breasts hanging from her chest was too much. She looked at Sue and then began to shed tears. Sue took her in her arms and gently rubbed her back. “That’s okay. Let it all out, Sweetie.”

Annie had weeks ago subconsciously realized that she was no longer able to play baseball at the major league level. The primary focus of her life was gone. Everything about her life had changed. When she had looked down and saw her protruding chest, she loved what she saw. She cried mainly because Mrs. Robinson didn’t seem to think she was a freak. She shed tears of relief at having run the good race. She had become everything her father and mother could’ve expected of her as a ballplayer. She knew -- without a doubt -- her future had opened to her as her past was closing.

For years, in times of stress, Annie had reached out to her dad. After her dad died, Annie had had no one to go to for comfort. For the past few weeks, he had wanted physical contact and support from someone, preferably a woman --- perhaps Mrs. Robinson was the one?

Sue had started the day saving her team. Throughout the day, her focus had switched from the family she once had to the family she could possibly have in the future. Annie had ignited a need in Sue to create a home for the two of them. She wanted to tend to Annie. She softly kissed Annie. Annie passively returned the kiss seeking answers in Sue’s touch. She made Annie feel totally vulnerable.

“Let’s go on,” Sue whispered. Without either of them saying another word they both knew exactly where they were going. They would work on the “details” of their relationship as needed. Images of a wedding, children, a home ... floated through their heads.

“Let’s see if some of my lingerie will work.” Sue could’ve easily ordered all new things for Annie, but she wanted Annie in her panties, her bra, and her stockings. Gently she helped Annie into the bra and panty set she had worn when she first seduced her late husband. The fabric was unlike anything Annie had seen or felt. Sue had specifically picked them to close the circle of life within her family.

“He”, “she”, and “they” were becoming interchangeable pronouns.

Sue brought out a corset for Annie to give her a waist. The corset was new. It was built with padding where Annie would need it to fill out her clothing.

Because of her training with the pantyhose, Annie was able to pull on the stockings without Sue’s help -- despite her long fingernails. She fumbled with the tabs running down from the corset. Sue smiled at how precious Annie was when she needed her help.

Annie shuddered with pleasure as Sue floated a gossamer silk slip down around her. Sue was nurturing Annie’s true self. Annie was deeply moved by her compassion, yet she felt no obligation other than the love she willingly gave.

Working diligently, Sue filed Annie’s long nails into ovals and covered them with a lovely dusty rose lacquer that enhanced the tan a ballplayer carries through the summer. “This color looks great on you.” Annie was totally open to her suggestions. She knew that Sue had her best interests in mind. Annie’s heart leaped when she read the name of the hue on the bottle of polish ... Romantic Mauve.

Sue gently held Annie’s chin in her hand as she plucked her eyebrows to a shape that was much more pleasing to her. As she thinned Annie’s facial hairs, Sue’s body pulsated with what seemed to be a Kegel exercise.

The cosmetics she used on Annie were of the best quality. Annie was amazed how much different her face felt. Even though Sue had applied full evening make-up, Annie could hardly feel a thing. The combined aroma of the make-up was remarkable.

The dress was simple, timeless, and elegant. It was haute couture’s answer to the little black dress. Dayton’s Oval room didn’t attach price tags. If they had, it would’ve said $1,410. Such was the going rate for the perfect LBD. It was crafted of smooth-woven stretch virgin wool. It featured a wrap style with an inside tie and hidden snap closure.

It had slim raglan sleeves that covered her arms. Annie didn’t have ‘Popeye’ muscles. Luckily, she had avoided weights. Her dad thought weightlifters lost agility and Andy had always followed his dad’s advice. Sue made a mental note to help Annie lose what little muscular definition she had.

The dress fell to just below Annie’s knees. Annie’s scrumptious legs enchanted Sue. The garment’s sleek shape accented the curves her corset had produced. There were smooth darts at the bust and long princess seams in the back. It spoke of grace and promises of orgasmic bliss. There was a black rope belt with tassels at each end. Italy could be very proud of this creation. It fit Annie like the glove down in Andy’s locker.

Sue had chosen just the right three-inch heels to go with the dress. They were perfect for Annie, very glamorous and yet classic. They were black suede with gleaming patent-leather trim. They had a pointed toe and low cut vamp. There was a narrow strap that wound around her ankle to a silver buckle on the side. Annie’s legs looked wonderful above the stacked heels. She gracefully walked away from Sue showing a practiced sexy sway. Sue melted as Annie pivoted toward her with a confident smile.

Annie could see in Sue’s eyes that she liked what she saw, which pleased her greatly. Annie loved how she looked and felt.

Without realizing it, Annie talked in the voice she had perfected in the locker room. They chatted quietly as Sue completed the work she had started earlier on Annie’s hair. They talked about everything and nothing. There was no need for either one to get to know the other. They knew each other better than many couples who had been married for decades.

Sue took the studs out of Annie’s ears and replaced them with small diamonds. A gold chain necklace and a simple gold bracelet set off her new look.

Sue reached in her desk drawer and pulled out the engagement ring she had bought that afternoon. The personnel office had Andy’s size on file as they were preparing for the possibility of ordering championship rings. She had thought about having her own engagement ring sized for Annie. She rejected the idea, as some small circles are too personal even within the circle of life. She slipped the ring on Annie’s hand. Annie was overcome by the symbolism of where she placed the ring.

“Does this mean we’re engaged, Mrs. Robinson?”

“Please call me, Sue ... my love. Do you want it to mean we’re engaged?” Sue waited breathlessly for Annie’s answer.

Annie thought back to advice her father had given her. She went with the pitch. “Sue, I would love to consider marriage to you. Nothing would fulfill me more than to make you happy. Let’s wait until the season is over before we make any big decisions.”

“There’s no reason to rush,” Sue agreed. They kissed and hugged and kissed.

Sue realized she hadn’t completed the evening’s work. Annie hadn’t seen herself. She repaired Annie’s face and finally allowed her to look in the mirror. Looking back was a beautiful young lady.

“Ohhh.”

“That’s the real you, Annie.”

“Are you -- are you attracted to me like this?”

“Very much so.” They hugged again, pressing two into one. When they separated, Sue spoke again. “Annie, you need to be Annie.”

“Yes --- I’m absolutely convinced that I should have been Annie from the day I was born.”

“You don’t mind if the Twins release you, do you?”

Annie shook her head. What had been so important to her now seemed meaningless. Annie’s mind completed her paradigm shift. Her focal point was now on her spouse to be. She knew Sue would be her best friend, her one true friend. Not a teammate, for teammates are ephemeral, coming and going with the seasons. This friend was for life. She had gone from ballplayer to family member.

“Hey, babe. Let’s take a walk on the wild side,” Sue said. “You look like candy, darling. Let’s go someplace and celebrate.” She handed Annie a Prada nylon and leather shoulder bag. The bag held everything Annie needed for a night on the town. Had Annie searched the purse she would have found an Italian leather wallet with identification in the name of Annie Robinson.

Most people would have had a problem getting a meal at midnight in the Rosewood Room of the Northstar Inn, but not the owner of the Twins. As they toasted each other, they laid the groundwork for their future; a future based on equality.

They spoke of the choices ahead of them. They talked frankly about what the doctor had told Sue that afternoon. They spoke of sex change, sperm banks, hormones, and self-actualization. Neither had a clear idea what would happen as far as Annie’s gender and neither cared. They knew they were going forward together. They knew Sue would make sure Annie was more and more feminine each day for the rest of the season. Whatever else would happen was just detail. Later in Sue’s apartment, they sampled one of the details and found it to be exquisite.

Annie went back to her apartment the next day and came away with a small box of personal items. The rest of her “male” things Annie would give to charity. During a closed door team meeting, with Andy dressed completely as Annie, she told her teammates she would steadily become more female for the rest of the season … through a World Series victory. She would be around the team, but would stay out of the public eye. Andy was quietly waived and a replacement was called up from the “AAA” farm club.

Annie never played baseball again. She didn’t miss it because her interests had centered on pleasing her spouse. Baseball would just be a distraction. Whatever involvement she would have in baseball in the future, would be because of Sue’s ownership of the team. Annie would support Sue any way she could.

Sue and the Skipper had a long talk with Sol Lunggal. Some promises for future exclusives were exchanged. As soon as Annie Blake was ready to come out, the paper would do a sensitive feature article. Full public disclosure would prevent Annie and Sue from living under a cloud of fear.

After the article appeared, the community embraced Annie. All the work she had done with charities had established a bond that allowed the people of the Twin Cities to open up to her with acceptance. Annie was receiving back the love she had given. The article had stated that Annie would be taking a position with the Twins while she finalized her transition. It did not speculate as to the details of the transition.

***

Had it actually been luck brought on by Andy’s feminization that allowed the Twins to win? Or, had the team actually played better? For the rest of the season, the hits came when they were needed. Errors occurred when they didn’t hurt the team. The pitching staff spread hits over innings and gave up runs only when their offense had already scored enough to win.

It was like Crash Davis said in Bill Durham, “A player on a streak has to respect the streak. You know why? Because, they don’t happen very often. If you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid or because you’re not getting laid or because you’re wearing women’s underwear, then you are!”

Did everyone in the Twins organization buy into the superstition that had changed Andy’s life? The best answer would be --- to some degree. No one believed it explicitly, except maybe Sue. Sue knew it was the luckiest thing that had ever happened to her. Annie knew Sue was the luckiest thing that had ever happened to her.

The season ended with the World Series of 1987. The Twins beat the Cardinals in one of the most exciting series ever. The Dome was packed and noisy. Not even Wally the Beerman could make himself heard. The Twins had gone from worst to first. After the win, there were parades in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The two Robinson girls rode in a convertible, charming the adoring crowds.

If the throngs of fans had looked closely, they would have seen a bit of a dazed look on one of the girls. Her attorney had just presented her with a check for $2,000,000 representing the settlement from a “dram shop” lawsuit he had handled for her. That money, combined with the money she had saved from her previous employment, gave her a nest egg that would allow her to take good care of her spouse. Seeing as how her spouse’s business had shown a healthy profit that year, that wasn’t a worry. But nice things happen to nice people.

***

Lewis and Clark Stadium
Sioux Falls, SD
Friday August 20, 1993

A young lady sat in the sparsely populated stands of the brand-new Lewis and Clark Stadium in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She was watching the Explorers play the St. Paul Saints. Over the loud speaker, Whitney Houston was singing “I Will Always Love You.”

The young woman was staring off into space, wondering what her two little boys were doing that night. They brought the boys on most trips. But a four-year old and a two-year old can really test your patience when you’re trying to assess talent. The boys were with a nanny.

“Julio, don’t swing at every first pitch,” she called to the batter.

A gentleman in his forties attired in an old, ratty jacket turned and looked at her.

“Julio, keep your foot out of the bucket.” The young lady was dressed impeccably in a red boucle jacket over a matching jewel neck sheath. She wore pearl drop earrings and black leather slingbacks with three-inch heels. The air around her carried her light jasmine scent. In the cool of the evening, she wished her stockings weren’t quite as sheer. However, propriety had its price. She was keeping a very detailed scorecard. She was the kind of lady you didn’t often spot in Sioux Falls; and certainly not at a ballgame.

“You sound like you know a little bit about baseball, girly. Does your husband play ball?”

“I don’t have a husband.”

“You don’t? A pretty little thing like you should have someone to protect you.”

When he leaned closer, the words “We Build Rite” were faintly visible on his jacket.

“Is this gentleman bothering you, Annie?” The man turned around to see yet another stunning woman. She was similarly dressed in a hound’s-tooth wool suit. Smiling, she extended her hand to him. She shined with the glow of someone who was in her second month of pregnancy. The previous day, they had signed an agreement in principle to sell the Twins in one year to a Minnesota businessman. They were going to concentrate on raising their children.

“Hi. I’m Sue Robinson and this is Annie. Are you enjoying the game?”

The suddenly silent, middle-aged man automatically shook her hand. Together with Annie, the women were nationally known as the outspoken owners of the Minnesota Twins.

The End

(Thank you very much to Geoff, Jenny, and Jezzi – and to my dear friend Amelia R who has always loved this story. This story is dedicated to Misty Dawn, who has a passion for baseball.)

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Nice Story

I read this on another site before but it is very good, even the second time around. It is a gentle story that has no bad moments in it. Glad to rediscover it.