He was incredibly handsome. Dreamy, in fact. The southpaw powerhouse of the college bullpen who was on every professional scout’s radar to play in the bigs.
Tall, upperclassman with broad shoulders, a lanky build, and a country smile that would melt the rubber off a baseball.
One afternoon, a beautiful blue sky and Beth beckoned me to skip Psych class and head to the ballpark. At the time, she was dating one of the players and a regular at most home games.
As we leaned back in the stands, elbows resting on the splintered bench behind us, we were two carefree, suntanned teenagers catching some rays and singing along with John Fogerty’s classic “Centerfield”. Mr. Southpaw looked up in the stands and asked a few teammates if they knew the brunette next to Beth. 37 years ago, I was that 19-year-old brunette.
I was so flattered that he would notice me. I also had a boyfriend who was attending college in another state.
Eventually, we hung out together with friends, took long walks which usually ended up at the ball diamond where we sat on the pitcher’s mound and held hands. He even bought me a little white fluffy bear we named “Ted”. For the most part, it was all pretty innocent.
One night, in late spring, a group of us were at an apartment party and the decision was made to move on to the bars downtown. He and I opted to go to my dorm room instead with plans to meet up with the crowd later.
School let out in early May for the summer. I returned home to begin my job as an office assistant and the Southpaw waited with eager anticipation for the MLB amateur draft. We exchanged numbers and spoke long distance a few times.
Back in the day, there was no such thing as an EPT, an early home pregnancy test. The time had come for me to pee in a cup and bring it to the doctor’s office. Out of intense fear of anyone finding out, I convinced my sister to turn in my urine to her doctor.
On May 21st my first day of full-time employment, I received a call on my desk phone. It was my sister, who sounded completely frantic. She blurted out “We’ve got to talk. My doctor thinks I’m pregnant.” I dropped the phone while my legs gave out. Hitting my head hard on the floor I passed out in the middle of metal file cabinets. Within moments, a few secretaries nearby came to my aid with a cool cloth for my head and water to sip. I could not speak. They gently carried me to the women’s restroom and laid me on the couch. Unlike Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she was knocked out cold and went into her dreamy state of the yellow brick road and ruby slippers, my JCPenney pumps were scattered near my desk and the only road I saw was the one of no return.
Panic immediately set in triggering the familiar need to cover up the shameful secret, just as I had perfected for many years in my childhood.
I spent the next few lunch hours combing the yellow pages desperately seeking answers and crafted a love poem for my unborn child.
Southpaw called with extreme excitement in his voice. “I’m going to the show!” Just as expected, he went in the second round and would be leaving soon to catch up with the minor league team for training in California. And with his signing bonus, he was going to purchase his dream car, a bright red Chevy Camaro. He made it. I was genuinely happy for him.
And with that, he was gone.
On June 8th, with the money I had managed to borrow from a few friends, I entered the clinic wearing my faded denim miniskirt, tan sleeveless cotton sweater, and my favorite chandelier earrings.
With shoes left on and no gown required, I simply pulled up my skirt and as I lay back on the cool, metal table, tears quietly seeped out and flowed around the nape of my neck.
For $50 more, I would have been put under. Instead, I remained awake and remember everything.