Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Pitcher’s Best Friend

Andy Pettitte is in Tampa, but still covered some ground in the Bronx. He made an early stop at Juan Carlos’s coffee cart.

“I’ll take a small with cream and sugar, please.”

Javier from Walton Avenue was also there.

“I’m a lefty, too,” Javier said. “I always wanted to be a big leaguer and threw all the time. My arm hurt, but I didn’t stop throwing until I couldn’t lift it anymore. I never made it and that hurts worse than anything.”

Pettitte headed to the Crown Diner and grabbed a stool at the counter.

“Pancakes and some of those grilled potatoes, please.”

Jon from Highbridge takes the spot next to him and orders scrambled eggs and bacon with whole-wheat toast.

“Being on the street is the only thing I fear,” Jon said. “I’ve heard that people who grow up rich aren’t afraid of the same things we are. They want a fancier car and a bigger house and a flatter television.

“We just want a job and a place to stay warm at night,” he continued. “That job is the most important thing in the world because it’s the only thing standing between us and the streets.”

Pettitte rode the 2 train to a downtown construction site that has dozens of safety violations.

“I work here to survive,” said Eduardo, who lives on Ogden Avenue in the Bronx. “My friend Fernando fell a few weeks ago and can barely walk. The boss gave him 50 bucks to keep his mouth shut. The rest of the guys help him out, but he might not be able to work again. The boss doesn’t care because there are still plenty of us left.”

Pettitte ended up back where he started.

Javier crumpled his coffee cup in front of Juan Carlos’s cart. He stepped on the rubber and checked the runner at first. He held the stretch and looked the runner back at third. There’s one out and he’s in trouble.

But he dug deep and made his pitch. A double-play ball: 6-4-3.

Javier smiled and winked.

“A pitcher’s best friend.”


Olivia said...

That is a great story. It is always nice to be able to read something that is real and not just some recycled trash from the talk shows and columnists.

Thanks for always “getting it.”

Pete said...

Beautifully done. This says everything without beating people over the head.

Donna said...

I hate to sound like everyone else, but…

This is wonderful work.

JoeyBoy said...

Nicely done, man.