Judy's Pitch

by Tom Weller

Longest home run In a minor league game at Emeryville Ball Park, CA on 4 Jul 1929, Roy Edward "Dizzy" Carlyle (1900-56) hit a homerun measured at 618 ft.
--The Guinness Book of Records, 1994

The pitch felt good, the laces whispering against the tips of my fingers as the ball left my hand.

The pitch looked good. A 2-2 fastball, low and away, off the plate. A pitch Dizzy couldn't do anything with. A pitch Dizzy would fish for. Dizzy would always fish for that outside pitch.

The pitch felt and looked so good that for the first and only time, I mouthed a spontaneous dedication, blessing that ball as it hummed toward home plate: For Judy, a pitch as powerful and sure as our love.

And Dizzy did fish, lunging for Judy's pitch with all the hope and fury of a blind man throwing a punch.

And Dizzy made thunder. Judy's pitch came off of Dizzy's bat with a crack that shook the earth. Every seat in Emeryville Ball Park vibrated in the wake of that sound. I still feel that crack from Dizzy's bat. It still rattles through my ribs.

And Dizzy and I both just stood there, hands on our hips, and watched as that ball took off at five hundred miles an hour hell bent for the horizon. Before it even cleared the infield that ball started glowing red and throbbing like hot coals. Glowing and racing and rising, up, up, up.

And just before that ball cleared the outfield wall, still going up, up, up, it grew a comet's tail, a stream of yellow and orange fire dancing across California's cloudless blue sky. Even from the pitcher's mound, I felt the heat of that comet's tail. It marked me, burned me like a nuclear flash. I still wear that burn, my skin still raw and tight. And it hurts. Somedays, when I brush up against the empty air surrounding me, brush up against those places where Judy should be but isn't, my whole body tingles, and am still standing in the heat of that homerun.

When that ball cleared the park it was three thousand feet high and still rising. The next day the newspaper said it finally came down in a drugstore parking lot, 618 feet away from where it had first made contact with Dizzy's bat, the longest homerun in the history of baseball.

But the newspaper lied. That ball never came down. All these years later it's still out there, going up, up, up, rocketing through outer space now. I know because if I look real hard into the night sky and pinch my eyes shut I can still see it, a red and orange and yellow streak passing across the silver face of the moon, the love that Judy and I shared hot and beautiful in some other universe.

BIO: Tom Weller is a former factory worker, Peace Corps volunteer, and Planned Parenthood sexuality educator. He currently lives in Greencastle, Indiana, and serves as the Student Support Services writing specialist at Indiana State University. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies including Silk Road, Midwestern Gothic, Catapult, Pilgrimage, Epiphany, Litro, Booth, Phantom Drift, Paper Darts, BULL, Little Patuxent Review, Bite: An Anthology of Flash Fiction, and One Hand Does Not Catch a Buffalo: Fifty Years of Amazing Peace Corps Stories.