It was late August. Mr. Matteson sat in the dugout of the Hilltop Browns at Beano Field watching his team beat up on the Beansboro Beansters,
"Mitch, why don't you pinch hit for Buddy?"
It was the Browns Manager, Messiah Christopher, making the request from the far end of the dugout.
Mr. Matteson nodded and he stood and did some stretches in the dugout. He then grabbed a bat from the rack and stepped out of the dugout to take some practice swings while Jimmy O'Brien grounded out to short.
Mitch tried loosening up further while Milt Powers had an 11 pitch at bat before flying to center and then Mr. Matteson slowly walked to the plate as his name was announced over the scratchy PA system.
"Matteson, pinch hitting for Borman. Matteson."
Mitch stepped up to the plate and took his stance in the batter's box, waiting for Mumbles Russo to ready himself on the mound.
"I don't think you can hit this guy," Ron Martino the catcher remarked from his squatting position behind the plate.
"All I can do is try, Ron," Mr. Matteson replied.
Mitch took a first pitch called strike. He weakly fouled off the second throw. He let the third pitch go by low for a ball and the second one outside for ball two.
Then Mumbles threw a nasty curve that fooled Mr. Matteson and had him so mixed up that he almost fell over swinging for strike three.
He tried to look dignified as he returned to the dugout as the teams changed sides.
"Play First, Mitch," Messiah told Mr. Matteson who swapped his batting helmet for his glove and trotted out to first base for the eighth inning.
"You-who, Mr. Matteson!"
Mr. Matteson glanced over toward the first base stands and he was surprised to see Mrs. Lewis seated in her accustomed spot for the first time all season. He grinned and tipped his hat toward her just as he had done so many times in the past. She laughed and waved from her spot.
The game ended with an 11-4 Browns victory and instead of trotting off the field to the dugout with the rest of his teammates, Mr. Matteson wandered over to the first baseline where Mrs. Lewis was standing by the protective fencing.
"Retired, huh?" She asked sarcastically.
"Jitter broke his leg a couple of weeks ago and Dango got a job transfer," he explained. "The team was a little short so they asked me if I wanted to help out the rest of the way."
"I thought I was retired from this too," Mrs. Lewis said, rolling her eyes. "Then I'm sitting at the kitchen table with the paper the other day and I read how Mitch Matteson's pinch hit double in the ninth gave the Browns a 3-2 win over the Giants. I thought it was a misprint at first."
Mr. Matteson grinned. "Thanks for coming to the game," he said.
"How could I not?" She beamed.
He stared at her loveliness. "How are you?"
"I'm okay," she smiled. "Glad to be back."
He nodded, not sure what he should say next.
"Aren't you going to ask me about Barney?" She wondered.
"I didn't think I should," he mumbled.
"He's in Milwaukee," Mrs. Lewis announced.
"No, I mean he's in Milwaukee," Mrs. Lewis clarified. "As in living there."
Mr. Matteson was confused. "What are you talking about?"
"That's the home office town," she explained. "He figured he should be closer to the project."
"You didn't go?" He asked with surprise.
"I don't like Milwaukee," She stated.
"So, you're no longer somebody else's Mrs.?" Mr. Matteson asked.
"I'm no longer somebody else's Mrs.," she confirmed with a smirk.
Mr. Matteson resisted the urge to ask her if she wanted to be his Mrs. "Would you like to meet for a drink at The Bullpen?" he offered, gesturing to the sports bar down the right field line.
"I'd like that very much," Mrs. Lewis replied.