I stood against the wall of the clubhouse watching the guys celebrate. I’d already gotten my interviews for the night so I just stood there taking it all in. Our team captain, Derek Jeter, had numerous microphones and cameras in front of him as he talked about tonights win over the Red Sox. We evened up the series 3-3 in the ALCS, so tomorrow’s game would be the deciding factor in who went on to the World Series.
Jeter was the consummate professional, both on and off the field, but behind the scenes he was one of the biggest practical jokers on the team, as well as a really nice guy. The New York tabloids were always printing Jeter sightings around the city, but I knew better than to believe half of what they said about him. It was reported only weeks ago that he was seen at Tiffany’s and Co. buying an engagement ring, but I knew straight from the horse’s mouth that he wasn’t getting engaged any time soon.
The sounds of “Hip Hip Jorge!” drew my attention to the starting catcher, Posada. The poor guy must be sick of that chant stemming from the ESPN Sports Center commercial a few years ago, but it was inevitable tonight due to his walk-off homerun that won the game in the bottom of the ninth and got him a whipped cream pie in the face from AJ Burnett.
I’ve been the on-field correspondent for the YES Network, which stands for Yankees Entertainment & Sports, for two years now. I had started off as an intern while I was earning my degree in Broadcast Journalism at NYU. When I graduated I was offered a permanent position with the station.
I had grown up a Yankee fan, so working for their exclusive network was like a dream come true. I got to travel with the team and enjoy all of their successes with them on and off the field, as well as meet the numerous Yankee legends that would be in the stadium or clubhouse on any given day. I had worked behind the scenes until the start of spring training two years ago when I was given the opportunity to get my feet wet reporting on the goings on at George Steinbrenner Field.
It was on that day that I met my boyfriend. Eric Northman had been acquired during the off-season from the National League and had one of the best arms of any pitcher in Major League Baseball. I knew who he was, of course, since he was a frequent news item as well. His good looks and reputation as a ladies’ man was widely known. The first time I saw him in person I had to keep the drool from spilling out of my mouth. Before that, I had thought of myself as a little jaded. I was used to being around a bunch of good looking famous professional athletes, but to me they were all like older or younger brothers, depending on their age. Everyone on the team meshed so well that it was like one big family.
But, when he walked in that first day, I felt like a teenage girl meeting her favorite rock star. I had to interview him that day after practice was over and found myself blushing under his intense gaze. I’d gotten used to tall men since his 6 foot 4 inch height was the same as Jeter and a bunch of the other guys on the team, but something about him just made him stand out. He had cut his longer blond locks short since it was a requirement of being on the team, but I thought he looked even better now with shorter hair. His blue eyes were mesmerizing and were set off perfectly by his golden tan.
I continued to watch him over the next few days and he would usually find some excuse to come over and talk to me. When he asked me out to dinner the first time I reluctantly said no, even though it killed me inside. I was concerned about being just another notch on his bedpost as well as earning a sordid reputation if I dated a player and it ended poorly.
He seemed to take my rejection as a challenge and pursued me vigorously from then on. I told him ‘no’ more times than I can count and the guys took great pleasure in giving him shit each time I did. It became a running joke in the clubhouse after a while that although I worked for the YES Network, I apparently could only say ‘No’.
My resolve waivered greatly the first time I’d seen him wearing the Yankees’ pinstriped uniform. From his broad shoulders, down to his tapered waist, to the metal spikes on his cleats that man was sex on a stick. The way the pinstripes curved over his perfectly rounded derriere every time he brought his leg up and out with each pitch he threw had my heart thudding in my chest and moisture pooling between my legs. To me, nothing could be sexier than HIM wearing THAT.
During the first couple of months of the season I watched Eric get hit on left and right from groupies all over the country. Each time I felt a red hot stab of jealousy, but each time I saw him spurn their advances and then come over to me to ask me out again. That helped to weaken my resolve towards him even further, but ultimately it was Jeter that pushed me over the edge.
We were on the team airplane travelling to Anaheim to face the Angels and Eric had just vacated the seat next to me after receiving my umpteenth rejection when Jeter sat down. He prodded out of me why I kept declining Eric’s dinner invitations and after listening to all of my concerns he assured me that no one would think any less of me for going out with him. Most of them had known me for years at that point and they knew I wasn’t some slutty groupie willing to bed any player that came my way.
He patted my hand and winked as he got up from the seat and I followed soon after finding Eric and asking him to join me for dinner when we got to Anaheim. He made me stand there for a few minutes with no expression on his face whatsoever and I was worried that I’d finally rejected him one too many times before a huge grin came across his face and he accepted.
We’ve been together ever since. I’d even gotten to act out a few fantasies, making him wear his uniform a few times during the off-season so I could peal it off of him pretending I was the ‘ball girl’. When we finally made our relationship public we found ourselves in the New York tabloid spotlight almost as often Jeter. We stayed in most nights anyway since the hours during the season were long for everyone regardless of whether or not he pitched that day. When we did venture out into the city everyone was always polite and gracious towards us, and the Yankee fans had no problems telling him exactly what they thought about his pitching performance, good or bad.
I looked over to where he stood in front of his locker with the press surrounding him. He was the starting pitcher for tomorrow night’s game and was getting questions called out to him from every side. When everything was finally done he found me and we walked out to his car hand in hand. I’d officially moved into his apartment a few months earlier since we were always together anyway. He was acting a bit off, but I knew he was nervous about pitching the next day.
The Boston Red Sox were the archenemy of the New York Yankees and had been since the Yankees ‘bought’ Babe Ruth from them in 1919. The ‘Curse of the Bambino’ lived on for 86 years until that wretched day in 2004 when the Red Sox came back from a 0-3 deficit in the ALCS against the Yanks and went on to win the World Series. I preferred to pretend that season never happened.
The city was in a virtual frenzy with the Yankees being in the postseason, but the fact that they were facing the Red Sox made it doubly so. If he pitched poorly he wouldn’t live it down in the eyes of the fans for months, if ever. They were like pit bulls, holding onto each victory or defeat as a personal point of pride or affront of their own character.
He was still quiet when we got home so I thought I’d leave him alone for now and let him work through his nerves. I made him a quick sandwich before leaving him in the kitchen and went into the bathroom to take a shower.
I could tell by the looks Sookie was giving me that she knew something was up. I did my best to act normal and hoped that she attributed it to nerves about tomorrow night’s game, which was mostly true. After she went into the bathroom I went ahead and stripped my clothes off to get into bed. I’d already showered at the clubhouse and I needed to get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow’s big game.
After Sookie finished taking a shower she crawled into the bed beside me snuggling right up against my side. After a goodnight kiss and ‘I love yous’ were exchanged we laid there side by side in silence for a while. When the silence became too much for her she finally broke down and asked, “Is there something wrong?”
“No!” It came out a little more forcefully than I had intended so I followed it up with, “I’m just worried about tomorrow. It’s a big game and I want to do well.” I leaned down and kissed her forehead before she propped herself up on her elbows. Looking at me with a glint in her eye she said, “Maybe you’d feel better if you practiced a little tonight.” She slid her leg over my body and sat up straddling me. Since we had started sleeping together in the nude when she moved in that got an immediate reaction from me down below and I could feel myself slowly growing harder underneath her. She grabbed my right hand and placed it on her left breast saying “How do you grip the ball to throw a fastball?”
I was at full mast now. I LOVED it when she played in bed. Sometimes I would swear that she would be the death of me, but oh what a way to go. Sitting up I grinned at her while tracing over her breast with my fingertips where the imaginary seams would be on my pretend baseball and then gripped it lightly with her pert nipple sitting at the v in between my pointer and middle fingers. I leaned forward and ran my tongue over it while gently kneading the flesh in my hand causing her to moan softly while rubbing her moist center up and down my hardened length.
“Mmmm..” she moaned, “and what about a curve ball?” I grinned wider as I slid my hand down to her glistening folds below saying, “That has more to do with how you turn your hand as you release the ball.” I inserted two fingers inside of her causing her gasp out in pleasure and as I turned them on the way out I knew I brushed over her g-spot. Her hips bucked forward and I continued thrusting them in and out, tortuously slow, knowing she wanted me to go faster. With each turn I narrated the difference claiming one to be a curveball, another to be a slider, and the last one a cutter that Mo and I had worked on in the bullpen whenever I got the chance.
I had guessed she’d had enough of practicing because she raised herself up pulling my fingers all of the way out as I was showing her another curveball and impaled herself on me while sighing in contentment. She held perfectly still just enjoying the sensation of me filling her before looking at me once more asking, “And what about your signs?” I watched as she held out her pointer finger against her inner thigh.
I grabbed her hips and lifted her up and down while thrusting into her growling out, “That would be a fastball.” I pumped into her furiously and felt when her muscles contracted around me as she cried out with her release, but I held out. There were more signs and she knew what they were. Once her panting died down she looked me in the eye and as if reading my mind, she grinned at me brushing the hair away from her dampened forehead and held two fingers against her inner thigh…a curve ball. I held onto her hips as she twisted her lower half around and around with each thrust of her hips, grinding down with each descent. She reached around behind her and grasped my balls in her hand and gently squeezed them while stroking the underside of my shaft with her thumb each time she raised her hips.
I could feel her muscles starting to contract once more and knew I couldn’t hold out much longer. There wouldn’t be any time for a slider tonight. I lifted her up and turned her around so that she was on all fours in front of me facing away and thrust right back into her. She cried out from the suddenness of it and I snaked my hand around her hip and wiggled four fingers up her inner thigh grunting, “Change-up.” I slid them higher to her tight bundle of nerves and as I rubbed them in small circles her muscles clamped down and pulled my orgasm from the tips of my toes and a scream from my lungs.
I was definitely more relaxed now and pulled her limp body back up against mine as I settled down in the bed once again. I kissed the top of her head murmuring, “I should practice with you more often.” She giggled before whispering, “I love you.”
“As I love you,” I replied but I knew she had already drifted to sleep. I lay awake for a little while longer feeling like the luckiest guy in the world. I knew Sookie was something special the first time I saw her and surprisingly had no problem having to pursue her. I was used to women falling at my feet and I had definitely enjoyed more than my share of them, but as soon as I saw her I knew I was done for. I also knew that when she finally yielded to me I would do whatever I had to do to make her happy.
I’d never forget when Jeter cornered me in the clubhouse after Sookie had shot me down for the tenth time. I was still relatively new to the team and he let me know that if I wanted nothing more than a fuck from Sookie to just forget about it. He told me that she wasn’t like that and if I caused her any problems or heartache I’d have to deal with him along with most of the other players on the team. It seemed as though she had 24 brothers all looking out for her. Knowing she was special enough to elicit that kind of loyalty made me want her all the more and the day she finally agreed to go out with me was the happiest day of my life. I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face and my love in my arms.
The next night at the stadium I could feel the energy from the crowd in the air. I’d already experienced facing the Red Sox numerous times in the last two years, both at Fenway Park and at Yankee Stadium which was always intense, but nothing compared to facing them on Game 7 in the ALCS. I kept looking down at my arms expecting to see the electrical charge I could feel flowing along my skin.
I walked out to the mound and threw a few more warm-up pitches to Posada before Scutaro came to the plate. I took a deep breath and forced all of the noise out of my head concentrating only on Posada and the call signs he gave. Ten pitches later we were headed to the dugout after Scutaro and Pedroia struck out swinging and Martinez popped out to right.
I sat down and stuck my pitching arm inside of my jacket to keep it warm and watched our guys at bat. Jeter hit a homerun into the short porch at right off of the first pitch Wakefield threw. I shook my head in disbelief at his ability to always rise up when it counted most. He definitely thrived under pressure.
We were able to score another run before the end of the inning giving me a two run lead to work with. I repeated my deep breath at the start of the second inning and once again concentrated only on Posada. Before I knew it, it was already the middle of the seventh and we were winning by a score of 5 to nothing. The crowd was going crazy and I was surprised that my arm still felt great. I sat down on the bench again and saw all of the other guys standing along the dugout rail watching what was going on. I had no idea of what my pitch count was so far and I wondered if Girardi was going to bring in Joba to pitch the eighth inning before having Mo come out to close the game.
I got up from the bench and noticed the other guys giving me funny looks and moving out of my way like I had the bubonic plague or something. I brushed it off thinking they were just keyed up waiting for the game to end. I walked up to Girardi and asked him what my pitch count was. He said 77. I thought to myself that I was doing pretty good then. I usually didn’t get pulled until I was around 110 or so. I asked if I was still going out in the eighth and he raised his eyebrow up into his hairline before asking me if I felt okay to go out. I assured him I felt fine so he said I still had the ball.
At the middle of the eighth the crowd was still on their feet and I could feel the whole stadium shaking with every hit we got. I sat down on the bench and noticed that none of the guys were sitting or standing next to me. None of them would look at me either. WTF? I thought we all got along okay. I stood up getting ready to ask them what their problem was when I looked out at the bullpen. I had expected to see Mo throwing his warm-up pitches, but he was just sitting there. I knew we had a 5 run lead, but I still expected that he would close out the game whether it was a save situation or not. That was when I looked at the scoreboard.
NY had 5 runs, 8 hits, and 0 errors. Boston had 0 runs, 0 hits, and 2 errors. I had a no-hitter going? I really hadn’t paid attention to what was going on. I had been concentrating on Posada’s calls and nothing more. I walked over to him and stood in front of him waiting until he finally looked at me.
“I have a no-hitter?” I asked him.
He looked at me like I had three heads and then smirked answering, “Yes.”
All I could think of saying was, “Oh.” Then another question popped into my head. “Am I going out in the ninth or is Mo?”
He shook his head at me like I was the village idiot. “Yes, you’re going out in the ninth.” He looked at me hard before following up with, “You really don’t know?”
“None of them have reached first base. If you get the next three outs you’ll have a perfect game.”
Huh? I thought through tonight’s game and couldn’t remember walking anybody. Holy Shit! Fuck! I wish he hadn’t told me because now I was all kinds of jumpy. I realized then that was the reason the other guys were avoiding me. It was bad mojo to talk to the pitcher after a certain point when he had a perfect game going. I walked down into the tunnel to try to clear my head once more. The only other perfect game in the post season was by another NY Yankee, Don Larsen in the 1956 Game 5 of the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s the only no-hitter in postseason play.
I kept walking and before I knew it I was in the clubhouse. I stood in front of my locker trying to wrap my head around the possibility of pitching a perfect game. Perfect. While I was thinking I noticed something sitting on the top shelf inside my locker. I’d been carrying it around for a while now. I reached in and picked it up, inspecting it once more before slipping it into my pocket. I thought maybe that would be my good luck charm.
I walked back out into the dugout and when we took the field at the top of the ninth the fans went crazy. The whole building was shaking as they all cheered, “Let’s go Yankees!” followed by 5 distinct claps or stomps. I’d never heard it that loud before.
I stood on the mound and tried to push the noise out of my head once more, but found I was having a harder time with it now. I even tried to do breathe through my eyelids like that chick told Tim Robbins to do in Bull Durham but that shit didn’t work. When my first two pitches were out of the strike zone, Posada and Jeter came to the mound. They told me to calm down and not to worry, they had my back. I looked out at the rest of the team and saw they were more nervous than I was, not wanting to blow the chance I had at making history by missing a ball hit their way.
I shook it off and focused again only on Posada. I watched as he placed his pointer finger on his inner left thigh. That would be a fastball inside to the right handed batter and I grinned thinking of Sookie making that same call last night. I threw the pitch towards Posada’s glove and JD Drew launched to straightaway center. I held my breath as Granderson took off after it and watched in awe as he scaled the back wall and snatched a homerun away from Drew.
The crowd went nuts and I pointed to Granderson as a grateful acknowledgment of his extraordinary feat. I got two quick strikes on Cameron with fastballs and then got him swinging on a slider low and away that would’ve been called a ball if he would’ve held up from taking a swing at it.
I took a deep breath as the next batter approached the plate. The final batter if I could get him out. Before stepping back on the rubber on the pitcher’s mound I ran my hand along my pant leg to wipe some of the sweat off of my hands and felt my good luck charm in my pocket. It made me feel better knowing it was there and I assumed my pitcher’s stance.
I watched as Posada wiggled four fingers against his leg calling for a change-up and grinned again. I threw the pitch and watched as McDonald popped it up behind home plate. As soon as Posada caught it the sounds of the stadium came back to me as the crowd roared and I was mobbed on the pitcher’s mound. We were all celebrating winning the ALCS and the guys hoisted me up on their shoulders as they carried me off to the dugout.
Sookie was waiting there on the field with the microphone in her hand and tears of joy in her eyes. I scooped her up in my arms and planted the mother of all kisses on her before she had a chance to react and the crowd got even louder. Knowing she had to interview me I reluctantly put her down and watched her as she listened to her cue coming from her ear piece signaling when she went live on the post-game show.
Her onscreen feed tied directly into the jumbo screen in center field and I watched as she smiled into the camera saying, “Yes Bob, I’m here with tonight’s winning pitcher Eric Northman.” Turning to me she said, “Tell us Eric, how does it feel to not only pitch a perfect game, but for it to happen in the deciding game of the ALCS?”
I smiled back her saying, “Well Sookie, I can only think of one other thing that would make this night truly perfect.”
She smiled at me indulgently and asked, “And what would that be?”
I reached into my pocket to retrieve my good luck charm and saw Jeter standing off to the side watching with a smile on his face. I would forever owe him for picking it up for me a few weeks earlier. I held her hand as I got down on bended knee before her, and after slipping the diamond ring onto the ring finger of her left hand a look of shock came across her face and she gasped in surprise.
“Will you marry me?”
Her eyes filled with tears and she just stood there staring at me at a complete loss for words. The crowd started chanting, “SAY YES! SAY YES! SAY YES! SAY YES!” over and over. I found myself holding my breath as she opened her mouth.