"These seats taken?"
"Nope," I said without looking up to see who was asking. Harwich had men on second and third. I took my foot off the bleacher bench in front of me. A mountain slid in and blocked my view.
It was only a house.
Big guy. Tall guy. Wide guy. When he asked about seats, plural, he meant it. He took up three spaces on the bench. And I couldn't see around him or over him. His head covered third base and the pitcher, angled as he was, his shoulders took out home plate and first base.
Nothing for me to do but move. I walked around the clubhouse to the stands on the third base line where, because it's where the home town crowd mostly sits, I couldn't find a seat. So I found a place to stand where I could look through a gap in the bleachers and see most of the field. Except that I didn't. Look through the gap. I was distracted.
Behind the bleachers is a favorite gathering spot for the pretty young women who are planning to still be there when the game's over and the fans go home and there's pretty much nobody left but them and the ball players packing up their equipment.
Few years ago---Jeez, was it almost ten already? IMDB says so---movie came out set on the Cape, Summer Catch, about a player in the Cape Cod League (Freddie Prinze) who falls in love with a local girl (Jessica Biel). The premise was that Prinze's character was a hardscrabble working class kid and Biel's was a WASP Princess---get it? Prinze's character was playing out of his league both professionally and romantically. The reality is often the opposite. Cape Cod, for all it's summertime wealth and visits from celebrities and Presidents, still has a large working class population. Chatham is a fishing village. The Cape League is for college ballplayers. They play here against the best of the best in hopes of attracting big league scouts but because they don't get paid they don't lose their amateur status. Mike Lowell played for the Chatham A's. Evan Longoria and Jason Bay did too. Most of them take part-time jobs to pay their expenses but they're on scholarships at their schools.
What I'm saying is that if these kids aren't princes, they are princes-in-waiting, and if they're smart as well as talented and they make the most of their opportunities, even if they don't make it as professional ballplayers, their status as college heroes and the connections that come from that will carry them far in life. For the most part, then, in any romantic encounters between players and fans, it's not usually going to be the case of Simple in his seven league boots winning the hand of the Princess, but a case of a beggar maid pining for the king for whom she's done an anonymous kindness.
Which is what I always think about whenever I see something like what I saw going on behind the bleachers Monday night.
One of the Chatham pitchers circulating through the stands helping to sell 50-50 raffle tickets and give out programs (and autographs) had stopped back here to chat with some fans---three college-aged women, one of whom was clearly smitten. Her friends were just star struck and they were talkative and giggly. But she was quiet and still and her eyes were huge. She was the prettiest of the three too. Not Jessica Biel movie starlet gorgeous. Normal human being beautiful. Her legs were long and her cutoffs were not. She was tall, but the pitcher was over six-foot and she had to look up with those wide open eyes into his. She had his attention, but he was cool enough not to show too much. He also knew enough not to hang around too long. he left them each with a program and then excused himself to go continue his rounds. The tall girl stared after him and her friends tried not to laugh too hard.
Several minutes later the pitcher came back this way. There was another player with him. They walked right past the tall girl and her friends who I don't think saw them. The pitcher and his friends were talking quietly but the pitcher gave his chin a quick jerk in the tall girl's direction and the other player lifted his head, held it still a second, then nodded.
I don't know if the pitcher was looking for his friend's approval or encouragement or to be warned off in case another friend was interested in the tall girl or in case she had a reputation as a nut or a clinger or a heartbreaker or someone who's heart it would be too easy to break. I don't know that I was seeing the story I've just told. I don't know that all I was seeing was a ballplayer being gracious with some fans and then talking over the finer points of the game with another player.
I do know, that if I was seeing this story, I'm rooting for the tall girl to find out that, one way or another, whatever way she wants it, this prince turns out to be a prince of a guy.