The 2015 Fall Classic!
A new release!
A new novel by PEN-awarding winning author Fred Reiss. Slow Pitch takes the field with a warm and funny tale about the Hall and Fame Bar & Grill, a last-place team of middle-aged guys in an adult slow-pitch softball league. They've played together so long, they've learned to cover for each teammate's weaknesses with one's strengths in the field.
Then, suddenly and surprisingly, the Famers find themselves on a winning streak.
The team's rise causes them to confront the difference between their success on the field and the shortcomings of their personal and professional lives off the field.
Now, even foul territory is in play!
Excerpt from Slow Pitch
The sun slowly arced over the first season practice for the Hall of Fame Bar and Grill softball team. Spring training was held at the team’s home park, the partially prestigious Kings Highway Traffic Circle ball field in Fairfield. At best, it was a soft opening day. A few of the reporting Famers sat on the splintered paint-peeling wood planks on the four-tiered rusted bleachers along the third baseline. Others stood and stretched in foul territory and waited for the rest of the team. April was like most of the players, slowly arriving, middle-aged, overweight, but not played-out yet. Spring’s upwelling brisk promise slightly defrosted the restless frozen boys who hibernated for within the alleged men-in-progress. It wasn’t ideal baseball weather. The air was conflicted. Warm breezes softened the edge of the drifting cold floes. It was too hot for jeans and a jacket. And too chilly for shorts and T-shirt. The field too hard for spikes. Too damp for sneakers. Most of the Famer roster was in their drift-netting late-thirties and early forties. Many of their energetic drives spattered and dwindled over the years, but they hadn’t lost the urge to hit, run or catch a ball. They were pumped to slide their hands into a glove or hold a bat again.
Chip, Bob-O, Googi, Dart, Herr Putz, and Ace wore old team jerseys from eight previous losing seasons in different fading colors with partially peeling cracked letters and numbers. The brims of the caps were folded, and bore stained badges of tomato sauce and beer from post-game brews and pizzas at the grill.
“He’s big and he’s bad, he’s bad and he’s big, he’s big bad Herr Putz,” said Bob-O, sucking in his gut as he bent over and tied his spikes. Bob-O had grown up in Fairfield. He had his circle of friends in the Fire Department and the guys on the team. He was a public servant, who pretty much liked everybody except the general public.
“We’re going all the way this year,” said Putz, a sawed-off, five-foot four-inch man, who was the Famer’s manager. He shook a duffle bag and dumped out clanging aluminum bats and last season’s deeply soiled and lopsided softballs, which warily rolled and rested against the bent rusted wire-mesh fence backstop.
“Yeah, going all the way: straight to the bottom,” indifferently said Ace, who had a way of dehydrating the moment with stats. “Numbers don’t lie. Do the math: eight seasons. Eight last-place finishes. Go figure. We’ve been in the basement so long, we resurfaced it, put in linoleum tiles on the floor, and brought in a ping pong and pool table so we have something else to play while we’re losing.”
Googi glanced over his shoulder. He spotted Moose approaching them and said, “I don’t care what you say about Moose. I still think Moose is a great guy.” He turned to Moose and said, “Oh, hey Moose didn’t see you coming.”
“Money talks nobody walks,” said Moose, smiling at Googi’s well-worn but comfortably frayed routine. Moose was a burly man with red hair and pale white skin. He sat on the bleachers and put his car keys, wallet and cell phone in his cowboy boots. A hangover puckered Moose’s frontal lobes in a major lip-lock. He reached for his spikes and said, “I feel a little folded over and crisp.”
Ace rummaged through the bats looking at their brand names. “Where’s my ‘Ball Buster’?”
The cell phone vibrated in Ace's pocket.
“That’s probably her now,” quipped Dart.