Vol. 1, No. 2: Line Drives & Bloop Hits photo

Mercy RuleAvery Gregurich

I’ve always swung from tiny town: a grain silo
standing just beyond centerfield, oftentimes rained out
because we didn’t have money for a tarp, a cattle panel
hung high over a short right field, pickup trucks backed
up against left, charcoal smoke blowing and all their
radios gracing the field with a chorus of Cardinals
baseball. We lost almost all the times we played, often
by the grace of the ten-run mercy rule. Of us, two boys
could pitch, and I kept close by at second base, a
once-broken-collarbone growing into a squirt-gun-arm
so that they couldn’t keep me far from where all the
losing was. Away games were tough, it being real hard to
drive three hours knowing a loss in four innings was
waiting there. One of the last games I played, I wound up
on a mound in Missouri, pitching because it was too early
for the mercy rule to apply, and we were down already by
eighteen runs. I threw sixteen straight balls only because
somebody had to do it. Now some nights behind the
checkout counter, I look around and listen, still waiting for
that umpire to emerge from the backroom and grant me a
strike a decade too late, or better yet, pull off his face
mask and call the whole game off on account of mercy.