Peter Gammons Loves a NEEDLE author

Big props to Eric Nusbaum, whose “The Death of a Pitcher” from was selected by Peter Gammons for inclusion in BEST AMERICAN SPORTS WRITING 2010.

The Death Of A Pitcher
By Eric Nusbaum

They ran the bases for Jaime Irogoyen. His family, his friends, and his teammates were all there at Estadio Carta Blanca in Juarez, Mexico at 11:00 AM on January 17. I like to imagine they were still dressed up from the funeral; that they came straight from church. I like to imagine that they filed out of the dugout in their suits and lined up behind home plate like Little Leaguers.

In my version they all stand silently for a while, unsure of what to do. There is no pitcher to get things started. No base coach to windmill them around the diamond. They stand silently in the quiet sanctuary of the empty stadium. They scratch their heads and ponder life and death and the way a baseball field can make everything outside its lines or walls or fences disappear. Finally an old man (maybe a grandparent or a coach) grumbles impatiently; he knows death well. Let’s do something, he says. Vamanos.

The first person to run is Jaime Irogoyen’s sister. She jogs with her eyes on the dry clay in front of her, rounding each base perfectly, so that her foot only barely touches the inside corners of the bags. The old man who grumbled before nods at her technique. The next mourner runs and the next one. Each waits for the person before to reach first base before taking off. Each runs with his or her head down so as not to offend the imagined pitcher. After all, Jaime Irogoyen was a pitcher.

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One response to “Peter Gammons Loves a NEEDLE author

  1. Congrats, Eric, on the inclusion.