The old ball diamond looked almost exactly the same as the last time Bill saw it, nearly fifty years earlier.
Of course, Melville High School itself was gone now, replaced by a parking lot and several other ball fields, along with a sign that read “Melville Youth League Park.” But the main diamond was the same, right down to the industrial grade chain link fence and the barn-post dugouts.
Bill stood on the mound and looked in toward home plate, imagining he was pitching to Hal Graham again. Hal had been Bill’s best friend all his life, and the best catcher he ever threw to.
Together, they even came up with the corkscrew fastball-curve hybrid that struck out Jimmy Peters to win the 1960 city championship. They were the only team to ever draw a whiff from Pinewood’s big slugger.
Bill had never stood on a mound without Hal behind the plate before, and he wouldn’t be there now if it weren’t for his buddy’s damn fool heart attack. Never would have come back to Melville for any other reason than Hal’s funeral.
Bill wiped the back of his hand across misty eyes. Blasted morning dew!
He set his feet, gritted his teeth, and made an imaginary pitch, praying his back didn’t fly apart.
“What are you doing here?” a gravelly voice snapped from the home dugout.
Bill’s face flushed, and he stood up straight.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone was here.”
And old man stepped into the sunlight, frowning at Bill. “This diamond is closed. The season has been canceled.”
Bill grimaced. It was the same everywhere. Such a tough year.
“I’m sorry,” Bill said again. “I’m leaving. I was just reminiscing. I used to play here, a long time ago.”
“Yeah? Me too. Name’s Jim Peters.”